ONE Championship Empower: Full Card and Predictions

ONE Championship will return on Friday with an iconic card featuring all female athletes, entitled ONE: Empower.

For those of you not familiar with ONE Championship, it is one of the premier MMA organizations, based out of Singapore. They feature mixed martial arts events, as well as kickboxing, grappling, and Muay Thai, making them the perfect one stop shop for combat sports fans. In addition to this, ONE does not permit cutting weight, boosting weight divisions by ~10 pounds and testing athletes for water content in their bodies.

This landmark show is headlined by five-time ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan, who defends her belt against #2-ranked contender Michelle Nicolini, a 13-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion and BJJ Hall of Famer.

Plus, the biggest-ever female mixed martial arts tournament kicks off, as the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal matchups all take place in one epic night. Denice Zamboanga faces Seo Hee HamAlyona Rassohyna rematches Stamp FairtexItsuki Hirata battles Alyse Anderson, and Meng Bo goes up against Ritu Phogat.

Main Card

Jing Nan Xiong vs. Michelle Nicolina (Strawweight Championship – MMA)

Denice Zamboanga vs. Seo Hee Ham (Atomweight GP Quarterfinal)

Alyona Rassohyna vs. Stamp Fairtex (Atomweight GP Quarterfinal)

Bo Meng vs. Ritu Phogat (Atomweight GP Quarterfinal)

Itsuki Hirata vs. Alyse Anderson (Atomweight GP Quarterfinal)

Anissa Meksen vs. Cristina Morales (Atomweight Kickboxing)

Lead Card

Jackie Buntan vs. Daniela Lopez (Atomweight Muay Thai)

Mei Yamaguchi vs. Julie Mezabarba (Atomweight GP Alternate)

Jing Nan Xiong vs. Michelle Nicolina (SW)

MMA news: Xiong Jing Nan retains title at ONE Championship 118

Xiong Jing Nan (15-2, 6-1 ONE) made her way to ONE after a stellar 10-1 run competing in her native China, making a successful debut on the global stage of ONE Championship with an impressive knockout of April Osenio. That led her to a shot at the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship, which she seized with yet another knockout to make history as China’s first-ever Mixed Martial Arts World Champion. She defended the Strawweight title in her last outing, with a twenty-five minute decision over Tiffany Teo.

Xiong is a powerful and aggressive striker. She brings in a high striking pace with good variety, and has amassed ten knockout wins across her career, including four under the ONE banner. Though her grappling is not a primary offensive threat, she is skilled at defending the takedown.

Xiong Jing Nan defends title against Michelle Nicolini in all-women's ONE  event in May - MMA Fighting

Although she made her professional cage debut in 2011, Michelle Nicolini (6-2, 4-1 ONE) juggled her new career with competing on the mats, and suffered as a result. To fully focus on her dreams of World Championship glory in the cage, she retired from BJJ competition in 2016 and is reaping the benefits. Now, with her sights set on the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship, she is determined to utilize her world-beating BJJ to devastating effect.

Michelle Nicolini is one of the best grapplers on the ONE roster, regardless of gender. She has claimed eight world titles, as well as gold at ADCC in no-gi. Her MMA record is decorated with five stoppages, all by various submissions. Her striking is developing, but she is a wold beater on the mat.

This is pretty much as pure of a striker vs. grappler matchup you can get. My gut instinct is to side with Xiong – she is just as superior in this matchup striking as she is dangerous on the feet. She has the capability of finishing the fight at any second, particularly when factoring in Nicolini’s lackluster takedown defense. With that being said, Nicolini has the same gross advantage and finishing threat on the mat. The only real difficulty Xiong needs to worry about on the feet is defending the takedown, and she has the tools to take a quick advantage of that.

My Pick: Xiong Jing Nan via Knockout

This card kicks off very early here in the United States, with the main card kicking off at 8:30 EST, and the prelims going down at 7:00!

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