MMA: Lee and Yamaguchi set for explosive rematch

Singapore's Angela Lee (right) getting the better of Japan's Mei Yamaguchi during their fight last year. Lee won to claim the inaugural One Championship atomweight title and that belt will be on the line again on Nov 24.
Singapore's Angela Lee (right) getting the better of Japan's Mei Yamaguchi during their fight last year. Lee won to claim the inaugural One Championship atomweight title and that belt will be on the line again on Nov 24.ST FILE PHOTO

Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi have promised their mixed martial arts (MMA) fans that their eagerly anticipated title rematch later this year will be one for the ages.

The pair fought in May last year, with Lee defeating the Japanese via unanimous decision after five rigorous rounds to claim the inaugural One Championship atomweight title at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Lee, who is of Korean and Singaporean descent, said yesterday: "Our first fight was one of the best and this fight will be no different. Mei and I have been training hard to improve. I doubt this will go to a five-round decision."

Yamaguchi, 34, has a 16-10 win-loss record.

She said: "We're going to exchange a lot of punches. Angela is becoming a total fighter. Fans can expect not only a lot of moves on the ground, but on feet too."

Since becoming the youngest MMA world champion, Lee has successfully defended her title twice and is unbeaten with an 8-0 career record ahead of the Nov 24 event in Singapore.

Lee believes she will enter the fight in the form of her life.

The 21-year-old said: "I trained all year round, working to improve the different areas of my fighting. A lot of improvements have been made in the mental and emotional aspect, I've had time to mature a bit more as a fighter and deal with those nerves a lot better.

"I think that's going to be the biggest change, and it's going to make all the difference in my performance."

The co-main event will see welterweight champion Ben Askren face former lightweight champion Shinya Aoki.

The undercard fights have not been confirmed but One Championship chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong said he expects to see Singapore's May Ooi involved.

For Askren, 33, it will be the last time he steps into the cage. The American is unbeaten in 17 bouts and plans to retire and join One Championship as an executive.

He said: "Right now, I'm focusing exclusively on my last fight.

"It feels good to get three fights in (this year) and to close out my career against the legendary Shinya."

Aoki said it will be "the biggest match in my career".

The 34-year-old with a 39-7 record added: "I have to move a lot and move dynamically, that's what I have to focus on during the fight."

•Look out for Angela Lee's interview in Lunch with Sumiko in The Sunday Times.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2017, with the headline 'Lee and Yamaguchi set for explosive rematch'. Print Edition | Subscribe