MMA: I can go toe to toe with anyone, says One Championship star Angela Lee

Atomweight champion Angela Lee successfully defends her title against Istela Nunes in the main event of ONE Championship's Dynasty of Heroes fight night at Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 26, 2017.
Atomweight champion Angela Lee successfully defends her title against Istela Nunes in the main event of ONE Championship's Dynasty of Heroes fight night at Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 26, 2017.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Angela Lee has hit back at claims that she is not good enough to fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

One Championship's women's atomweight champion told The Straits Times yesterday: "I am confident in my skills, I can compete against any of the top fighters you put me in a fight with. I know I'm the best pound-for-pound fighter."

Lee, who was born in Canada and is of Singaporean and Korean descent, also denies that there is a gulf in standards between the top fighters in the two mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions.

Las Vegas-based UFC, the world's biggest MMA promotion, staged its second show in the Republic - UFC Fight Night Singapore - last Saturday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The affair was headlined by former UFC women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm.

In the build-up to the event, local media had asked UFC's senior vice-president of international and content Joe Carr if Lee, 20, was good enough to feature in the UFC.

 

He had acknowledged Lee as a talented and young fighter, but had said: "There's a pretty big gap between where she is and where our top female fighters like (UFC women's strawweight champion) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), (UFC strawweight fighter) Claudia Gadelha are at."

"It's not really close and I don't think it'll be competitive," he added.

In response to his remarks, Lee told ST: "I don't agree with that. If you pit my previous opponent, Istela Nunes, against Joanna, it'll be a close and competitive fight. It would be a striking battle."

Following Lee's second successful title defence on May 26 against Nunes at One Championship's Dynasty of Heroes event in Singapore, One Championship's chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong had suggested a cross-promotion showdown between Lee and a UFC champion.

While the idea was later dismissed by Carr, the American did not rule out the possibility of Lee joining UFC's international stable of fighters in the future.

Lee, however, believes that she does not need to enter UFC's famous Octagon, which is often seen as the holy grail of the sport, in order to prove her worth.

Pledging her loyalty to Singapore-based One Championship, Lee said: "I know they (UFC) might try to entice me to go into their organisation, but I will never leave my organisation.

"I won't be joining the UFC, to fight through the ranks in order to earn a title shot to prove myself."

She also insisted that she is committed to building her fame on the One Championship platform.

"I want to leave a legacy and be known as one of the most successful and dominant champions inside and outside of the ring," said the Hawaii resident, who teaches and trains at the gym for five hours daily.

"Each time I fight, I want to put on a dominant performance that people are going to remember."