SINGAPORE - One Championship chairman Chatri Sityodtong expects atomweight world champion Angela Lee to return to action "in a few months".
The 21-year-old American, who fights under the Singapore flag in One, was supposed to defend her title against Japan's Mei Yamaguchi on Friday (Nov 24) at One's Immortal Pursuit event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, but the bout was cancelled after she had a car accident on Nov 7.
Lee was driving from her home to her gym in Hawaii at about 4.30am when she fell asleep at the wheel, and her car flipped after it hit the guardrails.
She has not shown any outward signs of trauma in her social media posts since the accident and Chatri confirmed yesterday that she is on the road to recovery, both physically and emotionally.
"I just spoke to Angela a couple of days ago, she's here in Singapore. Physically she is recovering, but it's more the emotional (aspect) now," he told The Straits Times on Wednesday on the sidelines of One's Immortal Pursuit press conference at the Marina Bay Sands.
"She still has nightmares, she still has a hard time adjusting. I think let's give her space, give her time and everything will be okay."
Lee has been unavailable for media interviews, although she will mingle with the fans tomorrow at the Indoor Stadium. In her absence, Yamaguchi will face Filipina Gina Iniong tomorrow night.
While other mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions, such as the US-based Ultimate Fighting Championship, sometimes introduce interim title bouts when the champion is not available to defend his or her title, Chatri dismissed the notion that one would be held in Lee's absence.
He said: "No, I think Angela will be back in a few months. She's a warrior, she's a fighter, she's a world champion.
"I want to give her as much time as possible, but I generally think it would be a few months for her."
Meanwhile, welterweight world champion Ben Askren held court on Wednesday at the press conference, ahead of the final professional fight of his mixed martial arts career.
The 33-year-old American, who competed as a wrestler at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is undefeated in 17 professional bouts and faces his Evolve Fight Team stable-mate Shinya Aoki tomorrow in the co-main event.
Askren said he made up his mind to retire two years ago, when he renewed his contract with One.
"I have read sports autobiographies when I was growing up and 80 per cent of the time, (the athletes) stay too long, and they end up broke," Askren said.
"Don't stay too long, don't go broke, that's always been my game plan since day one."
During his speech at the press conference, former One lightweight world champion Aoki, 34, spoke of his "fear" facing Askren.
Aoki said via a translator: "I am really scared about this bout, but at the same time I am ready to 'kill' him, and ready to be 'killed'. I hope I can go back home alive."
Asked about Aoki's comments later, Askren said: "I've been in this game long enough to recognise mental warfare.
"I think he is just playing possum."