Angela Lee gears up for MMA comeback as siblings prepare for key fights

·5-min read
Mixed martial arts siblings (Clockwise from top left) Angela, Christian and Victoria Lee during a virtual media session ahead of ONE: Revolution fight event. (PHOTO: Screenshot/Yahoo News Singapore)
Mixed martial arts siblings (Clockwise from top left) Angela, Christian and Victoria Lee during a virtual media session ahead of ONE: Revolution fight event. (PHOTO: Screenshot/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — She may have been out of ring action for almost two years, but mixed martial arts (MMA) star Angela Lee has not lost any of the feistiness that made her the youngest MMA world champion back in 2016.

After getting married in 2020 and giving birth in April this year, the 25-year-old is training hard to make her comeback in February next year, when she is scheduled to defend her ONE Championship women's atomweight title against the winner of the ongoing Grand Prix competition in her division.

And during a virtual media session on Thursday (8 September) with her siblings Christian and Victoria - both of whom will be fighting at the ONE: Revolution event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 24 September - the eldest Lee fiercely defended the decision on not vacating her title during her absence from the MMA ring.

"I do think that what (ONE Championship chief executive officer) Chatri (Sityodtong) did kind of made a statement for everyone. I worked so hard to get to the position I am at, and just because I got pregnant and I want to have a baby, doesn't mean I should be stripped of my title," she said in response to a Filipino journalist who accused her of taking a "two-year vacation".

"I know how hard I worked for this and I am not going to have that taken from me."

Angela's last ONE Championship bout was in October 2019 when she beat China's Xiong Jingnan via submission at the ONE: Century event in Tokyo to retain her atomweight title. It ended a two-bout losing run for the Canadian-American - who fights under Singapore's Evolve MMA - and improved her career win-loss record to 10-2.

She tips atomweight rivals Stamp Fairtex of Thailand and Rita Phogat of India to be the finalists of the Grand Prix, and is training hard to regain her in-ring sharpness despite having to take care of her infant child at the same time.

"Motherhood is amazing. It has definitely changed me. It’s different training now, I definitely have to schedule things far in advance. Everything needs to be flexible because of the baby," she said.

"I’ve started to train again alongside my brother and sister as they get ready for their fights. After the September event, we are going to be kicking it into gear and getting my fight camp started. I'm very excited about that. I think fighting in February is going to be great for me. It is going to give me even more time to come back even stronger."

Victoria Lee (left) lands a jab on her Thai opponent Sunisa Srisen en route to winning her first professional MMA bout at ONE: Fists of Fury. (PHOTO: ONE Championship)
Victoria Lee (left) lands a jab on her Thai opponent Sunisa Srisen en route to winning her first professional MMA bout at ONE: Fists of Fury. (PHOTO: ONE Championship)

Plans to move up a division for both Angela and Christian Lee 

One thing is certain for Angela: after fighting the Grand Prix winner in February, she will be moving up a weight division to strawweight and challenge the champion - something which she had not succeeded when she lost to Xiong in 2019, her first MMA career defeat.

A big reason for her move is to make way for her younger sister Victoria, who is also in the atomweight division and had won her first two bouts of her fledging career this year. Both Lees have stated previously that they would never fight each other in the MMA ring.

Victoria will face Brazil's Victoria Souza at ONE: Revolution in search of her third straight career win, and while she feels more comfortable with the demands of being an MMA fighter than when she made her debut in February, she is taking her formidable opponent lightly.

"She has a 5-0 record and I think it is going to be an exciting match because we are both finishers and I don’t think it is going to go the distance," she said. "I plan on finishing her in the first round."

Her elder brother Christian, 23, will be defending his ONE Championship men's lightweight title against South Korea's Ok Rae-yon at the same event, and hopes to continue his winning run after successful defences against Moldova's Iuri Lapicus and Russia's Timofey Nastyukhin.

Like Angela, he is planning to move up eventually to the welterweight division and become a two-division champion. However, he said he would delay those plans if former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez makes his way into lightweight title contention.

The 37-year-old American has struggled since joining ONE Championship, winning once and losing twice, but has recently been targeting verbal barbs at Christian, saying that his rival is "well-protected" by ONE.

In response, Christian said, "Eddie Alvarez was a big name coming over from the UFC. When ONE Championship signed him, he had a lot of traction behind him. But since then, he hasn't done enough to build himself a run-up to the title. 

"I'm still waiting on Eddie to win a few fights and then we can square off. For now, I'm very glad to be facing Ok, and I feel like he's the only worthy contender right now."

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