China's Xiong Jingnan wants to let her fists do the talking in title bout with Singapore's Tiffany Teo

Singapore's Tiffany Teo during a technical training session at the Tiger Muay Thai & MMA Gym in Phuket, Thailand. She is based there, training for her One Championship strawweight title bout with China's Xiong Jingnan (above) on Jan 20.
Singapore's Tiffany Teo during a technical training session at the Tiger Muay Thai & MMA Gym in Phuket, Thailand. She is based there, training for her One Championship strawweight title bout with China's Xiong Jingnan (above) on Jan 20.PHOTO COURTESY OF SINGAPORE MAVEN

PHUKET • She has not seen her Shandong-based parents for more than a year because she is based in Beijing, where she is training hard, striving to make a name for herself in mixed martial arts.

Xiong Jingnan, 28, hopes to repay her parents' support by beating Singapore's Tiffany Teo to win the inaugural One Championship women's strawweight title bout on Jan 20 in Jakarta.

"Because of my dreams, I haven't gone home for almost two years, and my parents have been really supportive of me," said Xiong, who has the names of her parents and the Chinese word for "home" tattooed on her left arm.

Nicknamed The Panda, the Chinese fighter has a 10-1 professional win-loss record, and is currently training in Phuket, Thailand with the Phuket Top Team gym which has hosted big names such as Ultimate Fighting Championship star Cris Cyborg and One's Vitaly Bigdash.

"I trained here before my last fight (in December) and even trained with my idol Cris when she was here. I am very familiar with this place and very comfortable with the coaches here. They treat me like I am part of the team."

Bruises are par for the course for any fighter in training, but Xiong wears them like a badge of honour.

Pointing to the bluish-black spots on her thighs, Xiong said: "They are very normal, if I don't get bruises it means that I am not working hard enough. These (marks) signify that I have done my part today."

Like Teo, Xiong is quick to acknowledge her confidence in winning the title bout on Jan 20, but Xiong refuses to be drawn into foretelling how the fight will turn out.

"I don't like to predict anything because things can change within seconds in the ring," the former weightlifter said.

"All this talk is just imagination of how things would turn out. I would rather let my actions doing the talking for me."

Lim Say Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'This fighting Panda to let her fists do talking'. Print Edition | Subscribe