Packed One Championship Macau card sees ‘The Panther’ and ‘The Panda’ planning for future super bouts
Hongkonger Ngalani has his eye on a rematch with Myanmar’s world champion Aung La Nsang, with Xiong preparing for Angela Lee challenge
Both home-crowd favourites on Saturday night’s One Championship: Pinnacle of Power card in Macau are excited for fight night, where they will each break new ground in their careers, but admitted they had their eyes on bigger fights down the line.
China’s first One champion Xiong “The Panda” Jingnan will embark on the first defence of her newly minted strawweight championship belt in the co-main event, while Hong Kong’s own Alain “The Panther” Ngalani makes his long-awaited return to stand-up fighting in the freshly launched One Championship Kickboxing Super Series.
Xiong (11-1) was quizzed about a potential future match-up with One Championship’s atomweight champion and the organisation’s poster girl Angela Lee after the Hawaii-native claimed on social media that she would be stepping up to strawweight following her recent hard-fought win over long-time rival Mei Yamaguchi.
And although “The Panda” didn’t have too much to say at a meet and greet this week, she made it clear she was already looking beyond her opponent on Saturday night, Argentina’s Laura Balin (10-2).
“I didn’t do much research on her because I don’t like to do that,” said Xiong. “It depends on what happens in the cage. My tactics will change every minute depending on my opponent. She is older than me and has more experience. But I think I can take her, no problem.”
Asked about her next step following a successful first defence of her strap, the 30-year old replied cryptically: “I don’t have any idea about whether I will compete with Angela Lee. After this fight, maybe I will change my mind.”
— Angela Lee (@angelaleemma) May 31, 2018
“I have a long way to go, I’m not at the end here. I only just became champion. I have to defend my title several times. I know my competitors in the future will be stronger and stronger, so that encourages me to be stronger,” she added.
One Championship reportedly sees a clash between Xiong and the unbeaten Lee as a potential superfight, which could headline the organisation’s “Beyond the Horizon” Shanghai card in August.
Ngalani (4-4-1, MMA, 25-7-1 (1NC), kick-boxing), who has a fearsome reputation in world kick-boxing and was a world champion before making his move into the cage, said he was looking forward to a return to the stand-up discipline.
“I’m very excited about returning to what was my first love,” said the naturalised Hongkonger. “That’s where it all started for me – winning my first world championship in kick-boxing. One Championship has brought me the opportunity [to return to kick-boxing] and it was with great pleasure that I chose to jump and grab it.”
Ngalani, who defeated Mongolia’s Tur-Ochir Ariunbold in his most recent MMA contest in March, was the heavyweight kick-boxing champion of Africa between 1998 and 2001.
When pressed about his future beyond Saturday, Ngalani was far clearer about his longer-term plans.
“I’m definitely looking forward to [a potential rematch with Aung La Nsang]. I’ll be watching his next match with a lot of interest and I’m looking forward to meeting him again in the cage very soon,” Ngalani added.
The veteran 42-year-old lost a hugely anticipated bout with Myanmar’s Aung in Yangon back in November 2017 by submission, but “The Python” said on social media that he is interested in a rematch with the Cameroon-born fighter.
Aung defends his middleweight championship against Japan’s Ken Haswegawa in Yangon on June 29, and another catch-weight super fight with Ngalani could be in the works if both come through their next fight unscathed.
Ngalani faces Tarik Khbabez of Morocco in his first professional kick-boxing bout since July 2011.
Saturday night’s co-main event sees rivals Adriano Moraes of Brazil and Philippines’ Geje Eustaquio throw down in a flyweight world championship unification bout.