One Championship: Angela Lee needs to recover fast because I’m getting stronger every day, says Xiong ‘The Panda’ Jingnan
- One Championship strawweight champion wants fight rescheduled soon
- Chinese star open to dropping down and facing Singapore’s Lee at atomweight
China’s MMA champion Xiong “The Panda” Jingnan has said the shock cancellation of her scheduled clash for the One Championship world strawweight title with Angela “Unstoppable” Lee has strengthened her resolve to rule the sport.
“She told everyone she wants my title, well I’m still here, I’m still waiting for her and at whatever weight she wants to fight,” Xiong told the South China Morning Post on Tuesday. “I’m ready to show the world that I am the best.”
A herniated disc suffered during training forced Lee (9-0) to pull out of the bout on Monday, after months of build up to towards what promised to be arguably the biggest fight in Asian MMA history, given the Hawaiian fighter’s global profile and the fact Xiong (16-1) has similarly carved her way through all recent challengers.
Xiong said she had taken the news hard but issued a series of warnings to Lee, the One world atomweight champ.
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My dad has always told me that there’s a difference from being “hurt” and being “injured”. As a professional athlete and a fighter, I’ve always been taught to push the extra mile. To endure the pain and tough it out. Giving up is never an option. 2 weeks ago, I was training and I felt like I strained something in my back. I rested for a day, got a massage and went back to train. The next day, the pain got worse. And the next few days after that, the pain increased to the point where I couldn’t even sit or stand. There was a sharp, shooting pain in my lower back and it radiated all the way to my toes. I went to get an MRI and the results came in. There is a disk between my L4-L5 vertebrae that is cracked. They call this a bulging disk, which causes pressure on the nerve. I’ve been dealing with constant sharp nerve pain, sciatica and muscle spasms Even with all of this pain, I still wanted to fight. I was willing to risk it all. I am a fighter and this is the fighter mentality. We always power through. I couldn’t hide this from my dad for too long and as soon as I revealed this to him, he began to weigh the pro’s and con’s. He informed ONE Championship, Chatri Sityodtong and their medical team. Once they reviewed my case, they deemed me unfit to fight. As hard as it was to except their decision, I know that this was the smart thing to do in order to preserve my health and career. I will heal up from this. I will be back. With that being said, I am really bummed out and upset that I won’t be in that cage on Friday night... We trained so hard for this fight. We were so prepared. But life is full of unexpected events and I still believe that- good or bad- everything happens for a reason. I have to trust in that. I know a lot of you may be disappointed. Hell, I am. And I’m sure my opponent, Xiong Jing Nan is as well. I sincerely apologize. This was not something that was in my control. I believe that this incident is just another test of patience & it will fire me up more than ever for my next fight. Injuries suck. Recovery is a process. I appreciate your support, encouragement and understanding during this time
A post shared by Angela Lee Pucci (@angelaleemma) on Nov 4, 2018 at 7:41pm PST
“My parents taught me to be confident and every day I walk around feeling like a champion,” Xiong said. “No one is going to take that away. I am comfortable at strawweight but can drop down to atomweight easy if that is what Angela wants.
“I say this injury is bad luck for her, and for me, but I am ready and with the extra time now, I am only going to get stronger.”
Xiong has leaned heavily on her boxing background, the 30-year-old blasting her way through a 8-0 run that has included five knockouts.
With a nod towards the 22-year-old Lee’s stellar career, and sheer dominance of her opponents on the mat, the Beijing-born fighter said she had become stronger on her feet over the past few months, but had worked hard at her own ground game.
“The plan was to use my favourite move on her – the knockout,” Xiong said. “Last time I fought [a third-round knockout of Brazilian Samara Santos in September] I did whatever I wanted to do, and I now hit harder but I have been training on my all-round game.
“I am still learning but every day I become a better fighter and when we do finally meet I will be better than I have ever been before.
“Every class I learn something new, every time I watch tapes of other fighters I pick up new tricks and new skills. My message to Angela is recover fast because I want to face you soon.”
With no word yet on just how long Lee will be forced out of action by the back injury, Xiong said she would continue to train – and to act – as though a title fight was looming on the horizon.
“For now, I am still feeling very upset and I don’t know how much longer that feeling will be with me,” Xiong said. “But injuries are part of the life of a fighter. I trained yesterday, I trained today – I will not stop.
“As an athlete and as a fighter I am always wanting to challenge myself against the best, and I am prepared anytime to accept the challenge from Angela or from anyone else.”
With Xiong and Lee now forced to watch from the sidelines, attention at the One: Heart of the Lion card at the Singapore Stadium on Friday night turns full-on to the clash for the One world bantamweight title between Brazilian incumbent Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes (22-3) and challenger Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (19-5) of the Philippines.
Before that, though, the Singapore-based One organisation will unveil recent marquee signings in American former UFC world flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (27-3-1) and one-time UFC world lightweight title holder Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez (29-6-1) for the first time at a press conference on Wednesday, where the promise has been that more major international signings will be announced.