Fighting a BJJ black belt would be an intimidating prospect for most fighters. Not Xiong Jing Nan though, she says hearing about opponent Michelle Nicolini‘s ground game just makes her smile,

“Michelle Nicolini said her ground technique is ten times stronger than mine and I have no chance to win on the ground, but my first reaction to that was to keep smiling,” she said.

Xiong certainly sounds confident as she prepares to defend her title at ONE: ‘Empower’ on Friday.

“The smile shows that I know who I am, and I have confidence in myself. I want to remember what she said at this moment and then use my strength on the day of the fight to tell her, ‘you’re wrong in what you said’.”

Higher level

The reigning strawweight champion is definitely not being dismissive of Nicolini. Xiong believes she will need to improve in certain areas in order to compete with the Brazilian,

“When I got the news that Michelle and I were going to fight each other, I thought that it would be more of a chance for me to improve. It’s a very good matchup.”

She describes Nicolini as being at a ‘higher level’,

“I like to fight with opponents at a higher level because, in the course of the fight, you can see something good and bad about yourself.”

Weak point

While Nicolini is clearly more of a threat on the ground Xiong promises she will not overlook any aspect of her preparation,

“I won’t prepare by reading her strength and putting all my energy into defending it. I’m an athlete who’s going to prepare in an all-around way. What will happen in the match is unknown to us all, but what I know is I have to do my best in all of my preparation.”

Xiong also acknowledges that grappling is not her strong point,

“Of course, her ground technique is her advantage because it’s one weak point on me, relatively and technically speaking,” she offers.

Something different

Her coaches at Evolve MMA will have been working around the clock to resolve this problem and Xiong hints she might try something ‘different’,

“But of course, we have a plan, with training from my coach and some tips from people around me. Then we all have to work hard and positively to prepare for the fight, to learn more, and to try different training techniques.”

“For me, preparation for each fight, whether it’s on the ground or standing, I’ll put 100% effort into it,” Xiong says.

For all her talk about preparing for Nicolini’s ground game Xiong still plans to play to her strengths at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Friday,

“No one knows what the result will be, but I’ll try my best and try to finish with my favorite KO as soon as possible.”