MMA: Angela Lee retains atomweight title with unanimous decision win over Mei Yamaguchi

Angela Lee of Singapore being announced the winner against Mei Yamaguchi of Japan during the Women’s Atomweight World Championship bout of One Championship: Unstoppable Dreams at Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 18, 2018.
Angela Lee of Singapore being announced the winner against Mei Yamaguchi of Japan during the Women’s Atomweight World Championship bout of One Championship: Unstoppable Dreams at Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 18, 2018.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Christian Lee of Singapore (right) in action against Martin Nyugen of Australia for the Featherweight World Championship during One Championship: Unstoppable Dreams at Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 18, 2018.
Christian Lee of Singapore (right) in action against Martin Nyugen of Australia for the Featherweight World Championship during One Championship: Unstoppable Dreams at Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 18, 2018.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Angela Lee successfully defended her One Championship atomweight (52.2kg) belt on Friday (May 18) at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, defeating Mei Yamaguchi by unanimous decision.

The rematch between the two fighters once again went to the judges in a see-saw battle with Lee having the better of the early exchanges and Yamaguchi battling back in the final round.

Lee and Yamaguchi's first fight in 2016 had also ended in the former's victory by the same result. Both fighters had promised a knockout the second time round but neither could gain a decisive edge.

Lee, now undefeated in nine fights, paid tribute to her Japanese opponent, whose record now stands at 17 wins, 11 defeats and a draw.

Said the 21-year-old, who is American but fights under the Singapore flag: "You know, I couldn't get the knockout because Mei is such a tough opponent and so incredibly skilled. It is incredibly hard to come in here and do what we do and it's probably the toughest job in the world.

"But we wouldn't be here without you guys (the fans) and your amazing support so thank you Singapore."

The event had champions of the Olympic variety as well, with Singapore's first gold medallist Joseph Schooling and American swim legend Michael Phelps in attendance.

Schooling, who is ambassador for One Championship, also walked behind Lee when she made her entrance.

Earlier, Lee's younger brother Christian had lost his featherweight title bout to defending champion Martin Nguyen by split decision.

In a fight punctuated by loud boos as both fighters spent the bulk of five rounds circling each other warily, Nguyen did just enough to convince two out of three judges.

The Australian, who has now won 11 of his 13 fights, was aware of the crowd's displeasure after.

The 29-year-old said: "I take full responsibility for what happened. That wasn't like me. I'm so sorry Singapore for such a s*** performance. Next time, I promise I'm going to go for the finish."

Christian, 19 and also fighting under the Singapore flag, fell to nine wins and two losses, both to Nguyen.

Despite elder sister Angela cheering him on in his corner, Christian appeared tentative against the champion who had beaten him via a first round submission two years ago at the same venue, with his few attempts at a takedown easily rebuffed by Nguyen.

The Nguyen-Christian bout was the first of three title fights for One Championship's Unstoppable Dreams event last night.

There was some cheer for Singapore earlier in the night as Amir Khan got back to winning ways with a stoppage victory in the second round of his lightweight fight against South Korean Lee Sung Jong.

The Singaporean had lost to Russian Timofey Nastyukhin in Myanmar in February.

Amir kept to his earlier promise to be more aggressive, as he attacked Sung Jong with a barrage of strikes and defended deftly on the ground, getting out of a tricky looking heel lock in the second round.

"I train with black belts everyday with my team-mates at (mixed martial arts gym) Evolve so I wasn't too bothered," said the 23-year-old Amir to loud cheers from the crowd. "Going into this fight, I wasn't about to lose in front of my home crowd."

Amir improved his record to 10 wins in 13 fights, and will hope he gets a title shot at Nguyen next.

Thailand's Yodsanklai Fairtex, the winner of the 2008 TV show Contender Asia, also featured in a kickboxing contest, triumphing over Dutch-Congolese fighter Chris Ngimbi in a unanimous decision.