Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan might just be the next young superstar in ONE Championship as she had a ton of hype behind her coming into her promotional debut at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY last March.
The 19-year-old native of Johor Bahru, Malaysia lived up to the billing with a submission victory over India’s Puja Tomar in front of a raucous crowd in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
While Radzuan comes from a Muay Thai background, she was looking to show off her ground skills as she repeatedly looked to drag Tomar to the ground and test her submission defense.
Radzuan nearly locked up an armbar on the mat in the second frame, but the Indian competitor refused to give up, forcing Radzuan to transition into a triangle choke.
As much as Tomar tried to ride out the submission, there was no escape this time. The end came at 2:23 into the second round, giving Radzuan her first win on the global stage of ONE Championship.
“I couldn’t even describe my emotion and the feeling when my name was announced as the winner of the bout. As a young martial artist, I just showcased what I am capable of on the global stage. The whole world was watching, and it’s definitely a dream come true,” she recalled.
As a young, vibrant female mixed martial arts competitor, Radzuan is breaking the mold and giving women of all ages a legitimate sporting role model to look up to.
Living in a conservative Muslim country like Malaysia, many people in her homeland believe that what she is doing is un-Islamic, and she should be taking on more traditional activities such as cooking and domestic interests.
Inspired by Ann Osman’s advocacy to erase the negative perception of women’s participation in combat sports, Radzuan believes that religious consciousness from certain people should not stop female mixed martial artists from pursuing their dreams.
“Being a mixed martial artist and being a Muslim as well shouldn’t hinder what I want to do or with achieving my goals or my ambition. We don’t believe religion should stop us. Islam teaches us to work hard,” said Radzuan, who also works as veterinary nurse.
Over the past decade, women’s mixed martial arts rose from relative obscurity to noticeable heights that many could not fathom in such a short span of time.
The once male-dominated sport has been infiltrated by women equipped with equal prowess to engage in high-testosterone action, at times even with more gusto than their male counterparts.
After years of being told that they “just weren’t good enough” and that there “wasn’t enough girls to form a legitimate bracket”, women are finally gracing the biggest platform of the mixed martial arts world.
“Some people even say I should just stay at home or do another job, but I ignore this kind of people. This is my passion. I believe it’s great because we are making a difference, especially in Malaysia,” she expressed.
“Now I see women who are interested in martial arts for self-defense purposes. It’s a great start,” Radzuan added.
As she continues to open eyes and introduces legions of already passionate enthusiasts to the burgeoning realm of Asian mixed martial arts, Radzuan seeks to exemplify the utmost confidence of a woman in ONE Championship.
“I just hope to inspire other women or even boys and girls to do what they want to do. Whatever you set your mind to, you can achieve as long as you put in the commitment and work hard,” she stated.
On a quest for greatness and to deliver a show-stealing performance, Radzuan returns to action on Friday, 13 July as she squares off with Indonesia’s Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER, which takes place at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Even though she is facing a more experienced competitor in her second ONE Championship outing, Radzuan is confident that she will walk away with her hand raised in triumph.
“I know she is a good fighter with a good background in martial arts. Plus, she is more experienced than me. But one important key to success is self-confidence. The trait has always been with me in this journey. I look at things optimistically,” she shared.
Radzuan stressed that she is proud to be among the youngest athletes representing Malaysia in ONE Championship.
“It’ll be just another day in the office for me. I’m super excited. I am definitely taking home the win in front of my hometown crowd,” she guaranteed.