Reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee from the Evolve Fight Team is known as “Unstoppable” to her millions of fans all over the world.
The moniker matched perfectly when she was undefeated, but now it’ll need to apply to her overall approach to her career and life. After starting her career 9-0, Lee is facing her first real adversity after dropping two bouts in a row.
However, if there is one person who can come back from such an ordeal, it’s certainly Lee. Even at the tender young age of 23, she has shown maturity beyond her years and has remained composed even with this mountain of a challenge staring her in the face.
At ONE: CENTURY this October 13th, Lee returns to action. This time defending her title against China’s Xiong Jing Nan in a highly-anticipated rematch. Before she steps into the ONE Circle to hold down the fort and get her professional career back in order, let’s take a quick look at some of her most unforgettable performances.
Today, Evolve Daily shares the five most memorable bouts of Angela Lee’s career.
1) Aya Saied Saber – First Professional Win – May 2015
After an extensive and successful background as an amateur, Lee made eventually made her professional mixed martial arts debut. She turned pro in May 2015, signing with Asia-based ONE Championship, and her first assignment was Aya Saied Saber.
At the time, Saber had a 3-5 record and wasn’t a significant contender. Still, the 24-year-old Egyptian had far more experience than Lee. Lee was also virtually unknown. She had a cult following in her native Hawaii, but her star power hadn’t yet translated internationally.
The match didn’t last long. It took Lee just 1:43 in the first round to lock in an armbar and to submit Saber. Just like that, Lee’s career was underway, and a long string of wins was just beginning.
2) Natalie Gonzales Hills – Viral Victory by Twister – November 2015
After finishing both of her first two opponents in the first round, Lee drew an equally inexperienced foe in her third match. The result was just as lopsided, and the finish went viral for all the right reasons.
Lee submitted Natalie Gonzales Hills with one of the rarest submission moves in the world of grappling, let alone mixed martial arts competition. Lee successfully executed the Twister to force Hills to tap out, and mixed martial arts fans were amazed. The ONE Championship video that shows the finish has hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. In many ways, this victory and the rare finish took Lee’s stardom to another level.
3) Rebecca Heintzman – Earned A Title Shot – February 2016
Lee was still racking up the wins in February 2016 when she drew American Rebecca Heintzman. Lee’s opponent had only one loss on her record, and that came against the respected Kaitlyn Chookagian. This was also a key matchup for Lee because a victory would earn her a shot at the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.
While Heintzman’s guile and toughness got her to the second round, Lee’s ground game was far too strong and too advanced. In the second frame, Lee got the finish with a neck crank that forced Heintzman to tap out. Lee had rolled to a 5-0 start to her career with finishes in each bout. She was now ready for a shot at the world title.
4) Mei Yamaguchi – Won The ONE Atomweight Title – May 2016
Without question, the toughest test of Lee’s career was facing Japanese mixed martial arts veteran Mei Yamaguchi. Once again, Yamaguchi had the experience that Lee lacked, and it showed.
Though Yamaguchi was shorter in stature, her strength and toughness presented a distinct challenge for Lee. But like all great champions, Lee overcame her disadvantages and found a way to win. The end result was a stunning display of grappling prowess that Yamaguchi simply had no answer for.
The battle was fierce and hotly contested, but the judges saw it in Lee’s favor unanimously. The victory happened in Lee’s hometown of Singapore, and the atmosphere was memorable. She’d become a champion and turned away a great competitor in the process.
5) Mei Yamaguchi – Returned From Her Accident To Defend Her Title – May 2018
In November 2017, Lee was involved in a serious car accident. She fell asleep at the wheel while coming from an early morning training session. Her car was a complete wreck. Thankfully, she escaped the crash with just a concussion and minor bruises, but the injuries and the ordeal forced the rematch with Yamaguchi to be pushed back to May 2018.
Since their first meeting, Lee had defended the title twice, earning stoppage wins over Istela Nunes and Jenny Huang. Yamaguchi had gone 2-1 with a controversial split-decision loss to Nunes on her record. When the two women finally met for the much-anticipated rematch, Lee was again pushed to her breaking point by the determined Japanese contender.
However, as was the case in the first meeting, Lee turned Yamaguchi away with more control on the ground, and she again won by decision. The victory is significant because of just how much adversity Lee had to overcome, considering it all.