From the very minute it was announced nearly one month ago, fight fans and martial arts enthusiasts alike have been excited for the blockbuster main event scheduled to take place at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES.
On Friday Night, 26 May, “Unstoppable” Angela Lee (7-0) will make the second defense of her ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship in front of a home crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. She will square off against Brazilian knockout artist Istela Nunes (5-0, 1 NC) in a cerebral battle of undefeated elites.
Lee has been on an absolute tear ever since making her professional debut with ONE in May 2015. She has amassed a flawless 7-0 record, winning her first five bouts via submission before capturing the belt in a thrilling five-round Fight of the Year bout against Mei Yamaguchi in 2016.
The 20-year-old Singaporean followed that up with a decisive TKO stoppage over Jenny Huang at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM this past March.
While Nunes is still a relative newcomer in the promotion, she has made a solid impact in her own right. The Brazilian two-time Muay Thai world champion, who made her professional MMA debut in October 2015, is unbeaten at 5-0, 1 NC.
She first became famous for her viral ‘triple head kick’ knockout in another promotion, but the 24-year-old striker further proved her toughness last August when she picked up a split decision victory over Yamaguchi in her promotional debut at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD.
With such a tantalizing bout ahead of them, our trio of martial arts analysts weigh in and share their opinions.
Rich “Ace” Franklin, Martial Arts Legend And Former World Champion
Both of these women had a decision victory against a very tough opponent in Mei Yamaguchi. Istela has some dangerous striking, which I thought would have been a major concern to Angela, until Angela’s last performance against Jenny Huang [at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM]. She has clearly taken her hands to a different level.
It would be exciting to watch these two throw down. However, my gut tells me Angela will be looking for what she believes is the path of least resistance — testing Istela’s unproven ground game.
Steve Dawson, Broadcast Analyst And TV Presenter
Martial arts throw up the very best clashes of style. Here is a prime example. I always fear for grapplers against big strikers. I fear for Angela, but Istela may not be quite the big striker that a ‘triple head kick’ finish made us think she is. You can never rely on one finish to categorize a fighter.
If Istela is the big hitter we hope she is, this could be the upset of 2017. I think Angela would be unwise to test her striking in this fight. Leave that for another day.
Mitch Chilson, Broadcast Analyst
We saw Angela’s improved stand-up in the last fight and we have seen her crazy submission skills, so everybody knows Angela is legit. But now, we have this new chick, Istela Nunes, who went a little bit viral when she got that ‘triple head kick’ knockout, so she is a star in the making.
If it stays on the feet, I think Istela has a slight power advantage. Angela lit up Jenny Huang with some impressive combinations. She raised the bar, but Istela has some great stand-up and strict Muay Thai. If Angela takes this bout to the ground, how good is Istela?
I think it is going to come down to Istela’s wrestling, because if she can stop Angela’s takedown and keep it on the feet, that is going to change the game. Angela has been cracked before, and she took it like a champ. She took it flush on the chin from Yamaguchi. She kept her head together and rolled with it, so this fight will be interesting.