Lee Believes Grappling Experience Gives Her the Edge Against Zamboanga

It’s been eight months since reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee stepped into the ONE Circle to defend her title.

That five-round war against strawweight queen Xiong Jing Nan in Tokyo last October brought the best out of the 23-year-old, with Lee turning in an impeccable performance to exact vengeance on the athlete who gave her the first professional loss of her career.

She was slated to return to action later this year, but when the global health crisis struck hard early, plans on Lee’s next bout were shelved.

As the situation with Covid-19 eases throughout the world, however, and ONE Championship is able to resume hosting live events once again, Lee is ready to climb back into the Circle at the soonest possible time to defend the title against her next challenger.

“I’m just excited to get back in the ONE Circle again. I’m feeling extremely motivated for my next matchup. I think it’ll be a great fight,” said Lee.

While there is no official confirmation of who her next opponent will be, Lee is expected to face number one ranked female atomweight contender Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga of the Philippines.

Zamboanga punched her ticket to a world title shot with a masterful and dominant performance over veteran and former two-time ONE World Title challenger Mei Yamaguchi just this February in Singapore.

The Filipina warrior, who trains with Stamp Fairtex at the famous Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya, Thailand, burst onto the scene with a shocking upset victory over highly-regarded Jihin Radzuan last December, and then followed up that performance with the win over Yamaguchi.

“I think Denice is very well-rounded. She’s an up-and-coming fighter. I also think that her team did a great job in creating a smart game plan for her in the Yamaguchi fight, and she was able to execute that plan and get the decision win,” said Lee.

“She’s young, hungry, and well-rounded. She is the new breed of MMA fighter that can do it all. She can strike, wrestle, and grapple. But I think she may be inexperienced in certain areas of the game.”

Lee is most likely referring to the area of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), in which she has shown exceptional skills. “Unstoppable” is known for her tricky ground game, as the majority of her opponents have had difficulty escaping from the clutches of her top game as soon as action hits the mat.

7 of Lee’s 10 career victories have come by way of submission, including the infamous ‘Twister’ submission she successfully executed against English-Filipina striker Natalie Gonzales Hills in 2015 — one of the rarest submission maneuvers ever seen in mixed martial arts competition.

Despite having trained in BJJ since she was young, one major factor contributing to her skill growth is being able to roll with her husband, highly-decorated BJJ champion Bruno Pucci. Pucci, himself a ONE Championship athlete, met Lee when they became teammates at Evolve MMA, and the results of their hard work have certainly shown.

The two now live in Waipahu, Hawaii, where they established United BJJ, a branch of their family-owned gym United MMA which focuses on the grappling arts.

“I love training with my husband. He always pushes me hard and brings out the best in me,” said Lee.

“I’m very grateful to have him as my partner in life and in training. Bruno is a second degree BJJ black belt and a two-time No Gi world champion. He has a lot of knowledge and I really appreciate everything that he shares with me.”

While all bouts begin on the feet, Lee has a knack for scoring quick takedowns, bringing her opponents to the ground where she enjoys a sizable advantage. Needless to say, Zamboanga must be prepared for when that happens.

Lee is confident she can retain her title, and put together another amazing performance fans will be happy with.

“I just think it’ll be a great fight. The fans will love it. It will definitely be exciting. But when that final bell rings, you will hear the words, ‘and still,’” she said.

Author: Robert Belen

Robert Belen is a long-time combat sports writer for dSource Boxing. An avid sports fan, he knows no fear nor partiality in his reporting. If you have a problem with him, tell it to his face. (We bid you not.) You can follow him on Twitter @robertbelen

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