ONE Championship’s all-female Empower card was capped off by a strawweight title fight that thoroughly entertained. In the main event, China’s Xiong Jing Nan successfully defended her belt for the fifth time, staving off dangerous submission ace Michelle Nicolini.
A multi-time world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Nicolini was a contrast in styles to Jing Nan. And while she’s happy with the win, “I won’t give myself a very high score tonight,” the Chinese fighter said following Friday’s event. Still, while critical of her performance, the champion added that “I believe all my fans can see that I’m very good at grappling, I’m very good at my ground control game.”
She was certainly adept at avoiding engaging Nicolini on the ground, dictating where the fight went, and forcing the Brazilian to fight on the feet. More often than Nicolini no doubt would have liked.
With Jing Nan having cleaned out most of the division, even making the drop to atomweight for an unsuccessful bid at a second belt, what comes next is a big question. Strawweight’s relatively thin ranks were pointed out to the champion Friday, who replied by saying “just give me anyone. I could battle with anyone. I want to fight anyone. Especially, I want to fight with a top fighter.”
And if one can’t be found in her own promotion, she’s happy to see a cross-promotional fight set up. “Not only in ONE Championship, but in other promotions. If other MMA promotions think their fighter is better than me, then okay, fight with me. I can show how great I am. Give me any fight, I can handle that, I can take them down.”
The other option Jing Nan is open to is a potential strawweight grand prix. With a dearth of contenders in her weight class, the tournament format seems perfect to generate both interest, and contenders.
“Of course,” Jing Nan answered, forgoing her translator what asked about such a scenario by Cageside Press. “I want to see a whole female card, a strawweight female card. I want to fight a strawweight female card champion, because I know if I want to be a truly great fighter, I have to fight anyone, no matter who she is. So I want to say, just give us a strawweight grand prix too.”
Watch the full ONE: Empower post-fight media appearance from Xiong Jing Nan above.