MMA: I'm ready for my toughest opponent yet

MMA: I'm ready for my toughest opponent yet
ONE Championship atomweight world champion Angela Lee will defend her title against Brazil's Istela Nunes at the Indoor Stadium on May 26.
PHOTO: ONE Championship

On May 22, 2015, she entered the ring at the Singapore Indoor Stadium as a bright-eyed teenager, eager to launch her mixed martial arts (MMA) career.

The following May, Angela Lee walked into the cage a nervous contender, facing Japan's Mei Yamaguchi in a battle for the inaugural ONE Championship atomweight world title.

Two months from now, Lee, 20, will return to the 12,000-seater venue a confident world champion, to meet "probably my toughest opponent yet".

It comes in the form of Brazil's Istela Nunes on May 26.

This will be the second time she is defending her crown, after brushing off the challenge of Taiwan's Jenny Huang via a technical knock-out in Bangkok last Saturday.

Lee told The New Paper yesterday: "For the title fight last year, I was overthinking, I was thinking about how much the fight meant to me, and I didn't want to disappoint anyone.

KEEP CALM

"(In my last fight), I just tried to keep calm, clear my mind and save all my energy for the fight.

"May 26 is going to be different because I have almost a sense of pride now, that I am coming to Singapore, fighting for Singapore and defending the world title here.

"No one is going to take this (title) from me, especially not here."

Born to a Singaporean father and a Korean mother, Lee still has relatives here, and fights under the Singapore flag for ONE.

Critics have challenged the 1.63-metre tall Lee to "fight someone my own size" as she has fought smaller-sized opponents with shorter reaches in her past two bouts.

Huang measures 1.55m, while Yamaguchi is 1.53m.

Nunes, though, is of Lee's height, and has a 5-0 win-loss record, the last of which was a split-decision victory against Yamaguchi last August.

Nunes, 24, said: "It's my goal to someday become a world champion in mixed martial arts, and Angela Lee is one of the best fighters in the world.

"I am preparing myself well and will make sure that I come ready for the best Angela Lee possible.

"On May 26, I will accomplish what so many others failed to do. I will beat Angela Lee and become champion."

Lee said she saw the Nunes-Yamaguchi fight in person in Macau last year, and left impressed.

She said: "She's a good fighter; she's undefeated, a nasty striker, good on the feet, and a two-time muay thai world champion.

"She's probably going to be my toughest opponent yet, and I am not taking this lightly at all... but I think that she's never faced a fighter like me before."

And, while she has posted photos and videos on Instagram of her and her younger siblings pigging out after her win in Thailand, Lee said she will start her fight camp once she returns to her native Hawaii on Saturday.

She said: "I have had five solid days of non-stop eating and have crossed off all my cravings already.

"It's time to get back to business."

Singapore's Angela Lee defeats previously-unbeaten Taiwan fighter

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 17, 2017.
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