Hawaii’s own Angela Lee traveled over 4,000 miles to prove she is the top female atomweight in martial arts.
Lee defended her ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship in the main event of ONE: CENTURY Part 1 from Tokyo, Japan with a fifth-round submission victory over ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan. The card took place from the Ryogoku Kokugikan airing in Hawaii live on TNT and streaming on B/R Live.
The victory was a measure of revenge for the Mililani graduate who trains at United MMA right on the main island in Hawaii. She suffered her first career loss this past March when Xiong defended her strawweight belt with a fifth-round victory.
“I am so happy,” Lee said during the post-fight press conference from the famous Ryogoku Sumo Hall.
“Earlier in the year, I was struggling with a lot of self-confidence, a lot of doubt. I was like, ‘Man, do I really belong here? Am I really this champion?’ The way that it played out this night, me having to work for it and work for it, keep pushing and then, in the end, get that finish. It is a dream come true.”
Lee overcame the early striking advantage of Xiong, showcasing her own striking skills with solid right hands. She worked for the takedown in the second and used her strong grappling in the third to gain the advantage.
A perfectly-executed belly-to-back suplex in the fifth set Lee up for the rear-naked choke, as she earned her seventh career win by submission and first since a 2017 title defense over Istela Nunes.
The 23-year-old Lee is a perfect 10-0 competing at atomweight, with all 10 of those triumphs coming under the ONE Championship banner. She is 10-2 overall in her career.
“The saying ‘hard work pays off’ could not be more true,” Lee said.
“This whole time I have just been saying this has been an incredible year of growth for me. I truly feel I have learned so much this year, more than all of the other years combined. Yes, I was disappointed the fight in March did not go my way, the fight in July did not go my way, but I used that as fuel, fire, motivation and I really worked hard for it.”
Lee added that “every single day I woke up and had one goal in mind: to go out there and prove that I am the best to myself.”
With Lee and Xiong each holding victories over the other, it is possible that – should both sides want it – a third bout could come to the ONE Championship ring in the near future.
“I think they both want a trilogy,” ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong said.
“I think they wanted it even before. Anything is game, but I am sure there is going to be a part three to the Lee versus Jingnan story.”