The first of four title fights atop the ONE Championship: Inside the Matrix card on Friday featured women’s strawweight champion Xiong Jing Nan defending her title against Singapore’s own Tiffany Teo. Of course, with just a small gallery of spectators present at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, that home field advantage for Teo was mostly negated.
China’s Xiong, known as “The Punching Panda,” was the more active fighter early. In and out, pressuring the challenger, light on her feet. Having held gold for over two years, Xiong was no doubt accustomed to high-pressure fights. And looked calm and composed early. Internally might have been a different matter — Xiong was coming off a loss in an atomweight title fight against Angela Lee, her first loss in years.
Xiong went body-head as the round wore down, but Teo managed to engage, and land, in a number of exchanges. Things picked up even more in the second round. The champion managed to keep Teo on the outside, initially looking to land a knockout blow. As the round progressed, “The Punching Panda” became the kicking panda, attacking the lead leg of Teo. Soon enough, Teo was showing damage on the face — but she took the fight to the ground with a throw midway through the round. That wouldn’t last long, but it had to be something of a moral victory. A second takedown, however, backfired for Teo when she wound up on her back. Or maybe not: Teo worked to trap an arm. Eventually, however, Xiong would end up on top dropping punches.
Round three saw Teo begin to push forward at times, pumping her jab. That sort of pressure was not something she could consistently bring, however. The champion looked fresher, and certainly was showing less damage. Teo found herself circling out of harm’s way when Xiong closed the distance. Xiong attacked her opponent’s lead leg some more, which was going to pose a problem for Teo if left unchecked.
Heading into the championship rounds, Xiong found herself in familiar territory. Her overhand right was landing. The champ was still light on her feet. Teo was somewhat slowed, if only a little. She still had enough to fire off a head kick, but by the time the round was done, it was clear the challenger would need a finish to claim the title.
Perhaps with that in mind, Teo was noticeably more aggressive as round five got underway. She landed multiple times on the champ, mixing kicks into her combinations. Xiong Jing Nan fired back with a front kick and her right hand. As much as the pressure had been turned up, Xiong still appeared very comfortable. Near the midway point, Teo was able to clinch against the fence and land a number of knees on the champ before putting Xiong on her back. Teo was in guard, Xiong in the worst spot she’d been in throughout the entire fight. As the pair worked their way back up, Teo landed several knees to the body. But Xiong survived, apparently no worse for the wear. It would be the closest Teo came to finding the finish she so desperately needed. But it was not enough.
Official Result: Xiong Jing Nan def. Tiffany Teo by unanimous decision