Dual-belt goal on Lee's agenda

Reigning atomweight champ reveals plans to challenge for strawweight supremacy as well

Angela Lee will be fighting Mei Yamaguchi again in May at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The American boasts an 8-0 win-loss record.
Angela Lee will be fighting Mei Yamaguchi again in May at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The American boasts an 8-0 win-loss record.PHOTO: EVOLVE MMA

On International Women's Day yesterday, mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Angela Lee announced her ambitions to make history for women in the sport.

Currently One Championship's atomweight (47.7-52.2kg) champion, the 21-year-old is aiming to become the first dual-division woman champion in a major MMA promotion by challenging One's strawweight (52.3-56.7kg) champion Xiong Jingnan of China.

Asked if she would move up a weight class during a question-and-answer session on Twitter yesterday, Lee said in a video: "Yes, that is definitely the plan."

Her first priority is to defend her atomweight title against Mei Yamaguchi on May 18 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Lee, an American who fights under the Singapore flag for One, was originally due to face the Japanese last November in Singapore.

That bout was postponed after Lee crashed her car in Hawaii just weeks before the fight.

Lee beat Yamaguchi in the inaugural atomweight title fight in May 2016 at the Indoor Stadium, and defended her title against Chinese Taipei's Jenny Huang and Brazil's Istela Nunes before the planned Yamaguchi rematch.

In a podcast interview with The MMA Complex earlier this week, Lee, undefeated in eight fights, said of Yamaguchi: "The good thing is I've fought her before. It's been two years since and the amount of improvements I've made since then is just phenomenal.

"I think it's going to be a great fight and people are not going to expect it. Last time it was back and forth but, this time, it's going to be very one-sided."

Xiong captured the strawweight belt after she beat Singapore's Tiffany Teo in Jakarta in January.

No woman has simultaneously held titles in two weight classes in a major MMA promotion.

Conor McGregor is the first man to hold two Ultimate Fighting Championship titles - he won the featherweight title in December 2015 and added the lightweight belt in November 2016.

The 29-year-old Irishman will be stripped of his lightweight title next month, due to his reluctance to defend that belt.

In the Asia-based One Championship, Myanmar's Aung La N Sang holds the middleweight and light heavyweight titles concurrently, while Australia's Martin Nguyen is currently the featherweight and lightweight champion.

Asked what legacy she wants to leave for young women, Lee said on Twitter: "I would like to inspire and encourage women all over the world to pursue their dreams, to dream big dreams and to know that anything is possible."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2018, with the headline 'Dual-belt goal on Lee's agenda'. Subscribe