MMA: Angela Lee retains atomweight title with dramatic last-gasp submission of archrival Xiong Jingnan

Angela Lee (left) produced a dramatic end to her title defence against Xiong Jingnan, submitting the Chinese fighter with just 12 seconds to go in their five-round match.
Angela Lee (left) produced a dramatic end to her title defence against Xiong Jingnan, submitting the Chinese fighter with just 12 seconds to go in their five-round match.PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

TOKYO - At the Ryokogu Kokugikan hall in Tokyo, where murals of legendary sumo wrestlers adorn the walls, it was a lithe woman weighing slightly over 52kg that stole the show on Sunday morning (Oct 13).

Angela Lee produced a dramatic end to her One Championship atomweight title defence against Xiong Jingnan at the One:Century event, submitting the Chinese fighter with just 12 seconds to go in their five-round match.

Tears flowed freely at the end of the fight for Lee, who has a Singapore-born dad and South Korean mum and fights under the Singapore flag, upon realisation she had avenged her loss to Xiong in March.

Said the 23-year-old Lee: "Honestly, it feels like a dream. I feel like I'm still dreaming, and I'm going to have to wake up soon and fight.

"In that last round I was rocked. I didn't know what I was doing. All I could hear were my brother and my dad in my corner.

"That last round, that was not me. That was all my team and my family, and I owe it all to them for this defence."

Typhoon Hagibis, which had brought an eerie calm over the city about 18 hours earlier, did nothing to deter the Japanese fans, who flocked to the arena despite public transport still being suspended in the morning.

In a roller-coaster match, Xiong, One's strawweight champion who had dropped a weight class to hunt Lee's belt, impressed with her crisp striking. But Lee rebounded with a dominant third round, utilising her ground game to great advantage.

However, heading into the final round, it looked like Xiong still had the edge. In One, fights are scored by judges in its entirety, not round-by-round.

 
 
 

But Lee kept her pre-fight promise of not leaving the decision to the judges, taking Xiong's back and eventually sliding her arm around Xiong's throat and locking in a rear-naked choke, forcing the Chinese fighter to submit.

Her fight was the main event for the first part of the two-part One:Century event, One's milestone 100th live event.

Earlier, her younger brother Christian enhanced his status as the main man in One's lightweight division with a unanimous-decision victory over Saygid Arslanaliev of Turkey in the lightweight grand prix final.

Despite taking the fight on just 10 days' notice following an injury to former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Eddie Alvarez, One lightweight champion Lee, whose title was not on the line, outskilled Arslanaliev in a three-round contest mostly fought on the ground.

In the final of the flyweight grand prix, another former UFC great, American fighter Demetrious Johnson, scored a unanimous decision victory over Danny Kingad of the Philippines.

The second part of One: Century will resume from 5pm with three titles on the line.

One heavyweight champion Brandon Vera of the Philippines will go down a weight class to contest for Myanmarese fighter Aung La N Sang's light heavyweight title, while bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes of Brazil defends his title against Filipino Kevin Belingon. Thai fighter Rodtang Jitmuangnon will also defend his One flyweight muay thai title against Brazil's Walter Goncalves.