“Unstoppable” Angela Lee has created some marquee moments over her stellar career.
The 21-year-old amassed a perfect record of 8-0, captured the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship, and has become one of the world’s best, and most popular, female martial artists.
As Lee prepares for an unforgettable 2018, which will see her defend her coveted belt against Mei Yamaguchi at some point, she recalls her three favorite wins in the ONE Championship cage.
#1 Defeating Jenny Huang In Her First Title Defense
The champion is proud of every single one of her victories, but her first title defense holds a special place in her heart.
This past March, at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM in Bangkok, Thailand, Lee defended the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship for the very first time. The win came against Jenny “Lady GoGo” Huang, an undefeated judo black belt from Chinese Taipei, who was riding a five-bout win streak and was coming off an impressive gogoplata victory just three months prior to the title clash.
While many thought this would be a grappling fan’s delight, Lee opted to keep it on the feet, where she could showcase her improved stand-up. She spent several months working with the many Muay Thai world champions of Evolve MMA in an effort to add a dynamic element to her striking, and it showed.
For two rounds, Lee displayed a solid rhythm. She constantly moved around, and used her crisp punches, kicks, and knees to light up Huang. Once the third round hit, the Singaporean softened “Lady GoGo” up with some more shots before taking her to the ground, flattening her out, and securing the TKO via ground-and-pound.
“I feel that match was pretty close to flawless. It was probably the match that went the smoothest,” she says. “I got to try a lot of new techniques and a lot of striking combinations. For a long time, I wanted to demonstrate my striking skills, because I usually take girls down and submit them. But it was fun, because it was my first TKO, and something different.”
#2 Claiming The World Title Against Mei Yamaguchi
In May 2016, Lee’s biggest bout of her career happened at ONE: ASCENT TO POWER in her favorite country of Singapore. She faced Japanese veteran and DEEP Jewels Featherweight Champion Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi for the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship in the night’s main event.
The world championship match turned out to be an epic five-round war that won several “Bout of the Year” awards.
During the opening two stanzas, they displayed the true beauty of martial arts. They exchanged strikes, grappling positions, and submission attempts. Both athletes were hungry, and never lost any motivation.
Just seconds into the third frame, however, Yamaguchi dropped Lee with a massive right hand, which brought the jam-packed Singapore Indoor Stadium to its feet. The Japanese athlete followed up with punches, and then went for an armbar. Although stunned, Lee was able to recover.
“I came in with a rookie mistake by having my hands down, and she capitalized on it,” Lee recollects. “It took a little while for me to regain my bearings, but as soon as I did, we were already grappling, and that is second nature to me.”
Heading into the championship rounds, the “Unstoppable” one was feeling refreshed, and noticed Yamaguchi was becoming exhausted. That was her cue to add extra pressure. The Singaporean spiced up her striking with takedown attempts, eventually bringing the match to the ground, where she tried locking in a variety of submission attempts.
“I could tell she was gassing out and was tired, so I was trying to capitalize on that,” Lee explains. “Even to the last seconds of the final bell, I had the choke and was trying to sink it in. That is just my style.”
As fate would have it, Yamaguchi did not tap out to the arm-triangle choke, and she brought Lee to a decision for the first and only time in her career. “Unstoppable,” however, won via unanimous decision, and became the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion.
“I was never happy trying to get a decision. I really tried to win the match,” she confesses. “But I became the campion and had to overcome a lot of adversity in those five rounds.”
#3 Submitting Aya Saber For A Perfect ONE Debut
Lee made her professional martial arts debut on the biggest stage of all.
In May 2015, “Unstoppable” met Egypt’s Aya Saber at ONE: WARRIOR’S QUEST. She was only 19 years of age back then, and understandably nervous. This was her first professional bout, and she was set to compete in front of a packed Singapore Indoor Stadium on a global broadcast to 1 billion people around the world.
The anxiety was present the night before at the official weigh-ins.
“I was just so nervous and so scared. You could see it all over my face, and it was just the weigh-ins,” she recalled. Fortunately, ONE Championship Vice President Matt Hume was there to calm her down. “Matt Hume just looked at me, smiled, and said, ‘Relax, you are going to do well.’ I was like, ‘Ok,’ but I was terrified.”
The next night, when she made the walk to the cage, the nerves and the anxiety vanished. It was time to compete, and Lee, who was a multi-time Pankration World Champion, always felt more comfortable in the heat of battle.
When the bell rang, Lee engaged with Saber on the feet, hip tossed her to the canvas, and quickly transitioned into the full mount position. The Egyptian squirmed, ultimately giving up her back. Lee then went for the rear-naked choke, but Saber scrambled and rolled over.
“Unstoppable” would not be denied. The Singaporean took side control, moved to knee-on-belly to rain down a few punches, then finally locked in the match-ending armbar.
It took just a minute and 43 seconds for Lee to submit Saber, and earn her first professional victory.
“As soon as we touched gloves, I did not hesitate, and I did not have a second thought,” she explains. “I just went in there and did what I trained to do. That is why the match went so well. I was just extremely focused and wanted to win so badly. I felt like this was the beginning of the journey.”