It has been a good year for Jihin Radzuan. She’s won two fights out of two for ONE Championship and is one of the top contenders in a division which needs to crown a new champion now that Angela Lee has moved up in weight.

The Malaysian is not exactly outspoken but she says success in the cage has had a profound affect on her lifestyle and personality.

“It’s been a memorable year. People close to me will know I’m only good at fighting, and not good at talking or anything else but over the year I’ve also received an acting role and a short role for an advertisement. To look back at the year, I just go, ‘wow’,” she said.

Championship aspirations

At ONE: ‘Destiny of Champions’ on Friday in Kuala Lumpur she has been matched with Jenny Huang. The Taiwanese atomweight is a submission specialist and a former atomweight title challenger and Radzuan thinks this will give a good indication as to how realistic her championship aspirations are.

“This upcoming fight is going to be a good test for me. I’m facing a former title challenger and I think it will be a great test of my skills. I can’t wait to go in there and show the results of my hard work,” she said.

Radzuan has a professional record of 3-0 but was also an amateur champion who won the MIMMA Season 4 flyweight tournament in 2016. Despite these credentials the Malaysian, who trains out of Ultimate MMA in Johor Bahru, still feels she has a point to prove whenever she steps into the cage.

“I want to show everybody that, as a female fighter and a Malaysian training at a local gym, I could go against the big names,” she says.

Passing the test

In her last fight she beat Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol by decision. The Indonesian was already a veteran of five ONE Championship bouts and Radzuan admits she thought carefully about accepting the fight,

“At first, when ONE Championship offered the fight, me and my coach (Melvin Yeoh) hesitated to take the fight. We thought they were going to give me somebody new, or with the same experience as me, but when they gave me Priscilla me and my coach were like, ‘this is quite a tough opponent’. It was up to me if I wanted to accept it or not. He told me to think about it for a day or so, but I just said, ‘I will take it. I will take whatever fight to test myself’.”

She passed the test with flying colours, dominating Lumban Gaol who has since registered back to back ONE Championship wins. She received some vocal support from the fans at the Axiata Arena and Radzuan feels a strong sense of patriotic pride whenever she fights.

“I’m able to do what I love and represent my country on the global stage. It’s an amazing feeling to walk down the ramp with the Malaysian flag draped across my shoulders. It’s an honor to be competing against the best in the world.”

No easy fights

Her reward for that is a bout with Huang, who is a veteran of seven ONE Championship bouts and challenged for the title in 2017. Radzuan feels that this represents a vote of confidence from a promotion that needs to crown a new atomweight champion.

“I can say that I’m quite proud with how far I’ve come in only two fights, because when ONE Championship gives me good fights, I know they are keeping a close eye on me. I’ve been getting the best of the best,” she says.

Istela Nunes and Mei Yamaguchi, who also fights on Friday night, might disagree with that assessment. But a third consecutive victory for Radzuan would put her directly in the title picture and should the opportunity arise she definitely won’t turn it down.

“Every fight offered I am going to take it. I am not going to choose any opponent. Slowly, step by step, I will get into title contention.”

Staying focused 

Nicknamed ‘Shadow Cat’ Radzuan is not the first Malaysian woman to fight for ONE Championship but she might just turn out to be the best. It’s an unconventional choice of career and she says that some of her compatriots still don’t understand what she does for a living,

“I’m blessed to be given this chance by ONE Championship. Not many women across Asia have been given this chance, and I’ll take it as it comes. In Malaysia, many women are still yet to fully understand the sport but when they do, I’m pretty sure they would understand the reason I do this. It has slowly molded me into a more confident person.”

This will be Radzuan’s third time fighting at the Axiata Arena and the first time she has fought on the main card. It’s a sign of how her career is progressing and she is grateful for the support of the Malaysian fans.

“It’s truly an honor. Thank you for continuously supporting me from start to finish. I hope the name ‘Shadow Cat’ will become something bigger as the years pass by.”

If Radzuan has any glaring weaknesses in her game they have yet to be exposed. Huang holds a black belt in Judo and should offer a stern test but the Malaysian sees Friday night’s opponent as a stepping stone on the path to potential glory,

“I want people to know me by my ability. I can go to the ground and I can strike. I need to meet the best of the best in the atomweight division, and then climb up to the championship belt.”