ONE Championships women’s atomweight champion Angela Lee will receive a hero’s welcome as she re-enters the scene of her greatest triumph at the promotion’s Dynasty of Heroes event this weekend.
As one of the emerging faces of female mixed martial arts, not just in Asia but across the globe, the 20-year-old Waipahu, Hawaii-based phenom has not for a second lost sight of her belief as she aims to ascend to the top of the 115lb mountain at such a tender age.
“The secret to my success has really been my family they are the ones who have been there for me every day,” she said. “The way my dad being my head coach has trained me from young is the reason I won the championship title so I owe it all to my family.
“I think my parent were ahead of their time and were early pioneers of the sport which resulted in them bringing up me and brother in MMA as a whole instead of just a traditional style and this gave us a huge advantage when competing.”
Speaking exclusively to MMA Plus, Lee was quick to point out the impact being raised in a family of martial artists has had on the Angela Lee success story.
“I have a lot of experience competing from when I was very young. I’ve trained so hard and I know I have worked harder than anyone so I take strength in that so I don’t let the pressure of staying undefeated or being te champion overwhelm me, I use it as a motivation to keep going, keep my belt and keep adding to my success story.”
Just a few months shy of her 21st birthday ‘Unstoppable’ will headline her second ONE Championship event at the Singapore Indoor Arena. For some athletes of her age this would be a daunting prospect but for Lee, any additional pressure she may be expected to feel does not phase her in the slightest.
“I’m very, very excited. The last time I fought in Singapore was for the championship title so now coming back as the champion, defending my belt will be a completely different feeling and I’m very excited to fight in front of my friends, family and fans in Singapore and I think it will be a special feeling and a fight to remember.”
When she enters the cage at the Singapore Indoor Arena, the champion faces fellow undefeated prospect Istela Nunes in a fight in which many are claiming will be her toughest to date. But it these kinds of test that she lives for as a professional mixed martial artist.
“I think that Istela is a good opponent for me. I think she’s a dangerous striker, I’ve watched her fights before and she’s explosive and I think it’s going to be a good fight. Obviously being a 2-time Muay Thai world champion she gonna try and implement her gameplan and I’m going to try and implement mine but I see me being a better fighter in all areas because of my skillset and my training and because that I’m gonna come out with the win.”
The Evolve MMA trained fighter is one of the leading figures in the new wave of fighters, who like ONE Championship, see mixed martial arts as a hybrid that has evolved from the traditional arts. Lee has used her status as atomweight champion as a chance to connect with women who are for the large part under-represented in the sport. It is this drive to be a force for them inside and outside the cage that has resulted in her becoming one of the most recognisable faces in women’s MMA today.
“I didn’t see this coming, I just train hard and stay true to who I am. One of my goals is to just to spread the sport of mixed martial arts and ONE Championship have given me the platform to do that and so when I’m able to perform in that cage and speak to people about my story it’s such a treat because I truly do what to help empower more women, especially in Asia to encourage them to do martial arts, show them the benefits and show them that you can actually have a legitimate career in mixed martial arts if they choose to.
“I really want to stress that mixed martial arts isn’t just a sport its a lifestyle and anyone can do it. You gain more than just confidence and fitness when you do it, you also learn how to protect yourself. I hope through my journey in the world of mixed martial arts they feel confident enough to give it a shot. I just really want to make a difference and that’s what I’m trying to do.”