Xiong defends title with TKO win

Xiong "The Panda" Jingnan,defended her title for the first time in mainland China after a technical knockout victory over Brazilian challenger Samara Santos at the ONE Championship
Ti Gong

Xiong ‘The Panda’ Jingnan pummels Samara Santos en route to retaining her ONE women’s strawweight world championship in Shanghai on Saturday.

One women’s strawweight world champion, Xiong “The Panda” Jingnan, defended her title for the first time in mainland China after a technical knockout victory over Brazilian challenger Samara Santos at the ONE Championship: Beyond The Horizon in Shanghai on Saturday evening.

As the main bout of the MMA event which was held at Baoshan Arena, Xiong’s clash with Santos attracted some star spectators, including Ronnie O’Sullivan who is in town for snooker’s Shanghai Masters, as well as two-time Olympic boxing champion Zou Shiming.

Xiong, a former national team boxer, started the fight in typical aggressive fashion with flurries of punches. Santos, despite her understated demeanor ahead of the contest, traded punches with Xiong and shocked the home fighter by taking her back and threatening with a rear-naked choke.

Xiong stayed cool and achieved mount position in the latter part of the first round, landing a barrage of ground strikes on the 25-year-old Brazilian who is five years her junior.

The Shandong Province native continued to pile on the pressure in the second round. Santos threatened with an armbar before Xiong retook control and answered a Santos takedown with a judo throw to finish the round on top again.

Dominating the contest, Xiong got the job done in the third round, thwarting the courageous Santos with a thunderous right hand. The victory extended Xiong’s MMA record to 16-1.

“I feel that I haven’t given full play to my skills yet,” Xiong said after the victory. “It means there is still more room for me and I can present a better performance next time. My father and brother also came, which added a bit of pressure on me though I pretended to be relaxed.”

Xiong said she was happy with her back kick, a skill she was not good at as a boxer, but managed to pick up through training.

“I had to start form zero in some aspects after starting to practice mixed martial arts. I have been following professional training regimes in the past two years, and I am happy to see the rewards,” she added.

Xiong became the first Chinese gold belt holder of the ONE Championship in January, beating Argentine Laura Balin in China’s Macau for the women’s strawweight world title.

Her triumph in Shanghai will be followed by a mouthwatering clash between two world champions, as Xiong is scheduled to take on reigning ONE women’s atomweight world champion Angela Lee in the latter’s homeland of Singapore in November this year.

In the co-main event of the Shanghai gala, Singaporean lightweight contender Amir Khan took out former ONE featherweight world champion Honorio Banario of the Philippines. Khan finished the task at hand by compelling Banario to wave the white flag with a deep rear naked choke in the first round.

A heated featherweight matchup ended abruptly when another Singaporean, Christian Lee, was disqualified for executing an illegal suplex onto the head of his Filipino opponent Edward Kelly in the first round. Kelly was unable to continue the bout, forcing referee Olivier Coste to flash the red card at Lee, signifying the latter’s disqualification.

In an earlier bout, China’s Han Zihao registered his first win in ONE by beating Stergos Mikkios of Greece.


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