Angela Lee knows the dangers of moving up to strawweight, but has her sights set on martial arts history at ONE: HEART OF THE LION.
The Hawaiian has a perfect professional record of 9-0, and is the reigning ONE Atomweight World Champion, having defended her title three on three straight occasions after capturing the vacant title against Mei Yamaguchi back in May 2016.
Stoppage wins over Jenny Huang (via strikes) and Istela Nunes (via anaconda choke) solidified Lee’s status as a dominant champion, and helped build her reputation as one of ONE Championship’s biggest stars.
But Lee’s world was turned upside down when she was involved in a huge car crash while driving to November training session in the early hours of the morning.
Miraculously, Lee escaped without any major injuries, telling the Straits Times that it was “a miracle that I’m still here today, alive and well”.
After some time recovering from a concussion and a bruised hip, Lee returned to the ONE Championship cage and faced her old adversary Yamaguchi, who had pushed her all the way in their first meeting for the title.
The second meeting was every bit as enthralling as the first, as Lee and Yamaguchi battled all the way to the scorecards, with the defending champion claiming the unanimous decision for a second time.
During Lee’s atomweight title reign, ONE introduced a women’s strawweight division, as Chinese starlet Xiong Jing Nan rose to prominence as a dominant world champion in her own right.
And now the two champions will face off in Singapore on November 6 at ONE: HEART OF THE LION, with Xiong’s ONE Strawweight World Title on the line.
It’s an opportunity for Lee – already a history-maker after becoming the youngest athlete to win a major MMA world title as a 19-year-old – to make history once again.
If Lee can dethrone the power-punching “Panda” Xiong in Singapore, she will become the first female athlete to hold world titles in two different weight classes at the same time.
And that historic significance forms part of Lee’s motivation heading into the contest, as she told the media during a conference call this week.
“Becoming a two-division world champion in the sport is something I wanted for so long, but I knew I had to earn it,” she explained.
“The time has come to turn that dream into a reality. I am facing an outstanding champion in my next bout, and I am not taking Xiong Jing Nan lightly.
“I live for challenges, this is why I do what I do, to test myself against the very best in the world. Now I am ready for a new challenge, and entering the strawweight division has lit a fire underneath me.”
Lee has been training tirelessly for the contest as he bids to move up a weight class to face someone with noted punch power and a seemingly endless gas tank. It’s the toughest test of Lee’s mixed martial arts career, and she’s clearly relishing the challenge that stands ahead of her.
“On 9 November, prepare to see a more focused, faster, and stronger Angela Lee,” she declared.
“I know the champion has very good striking and grappling skills, but so do I. And I believe I am continuously improving and growing. Every day I’m working very hard to make sure I am in the best shape of my career. I believe in my team and my coaches, my Dad.
“I know what’s at stake here and I will do everything that I can to come out the winner. It’s time to make history.”
Lee challenges Xiong in the main event of ONE: HEART OF THE LION at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday November 9. The event is available to watch live and for free via the ONE Championship Super App.
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