“Unstoppable” Angela Lee knows that no matter what she does in her mixed martial arts career, she has to do it with respect.
Next Sunday, 13 October, the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion from Singapore will put her belt on the line in a rematch against “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan in the main event of ONE: CENTURY PART I in Tokyo, Japan.
Lee is convinced that she will gain redemption in this rematch and defeat her Chinese challenger, but her regard for her rival – and every athlete in the Circle – means she will never underestimate the challenge in front of her.
“When you’re facing an opponent in the ONE Circle, you’ve got to respect their skills, their abilities, their dedication that they put into training for a fight,” Lee says.
“You can’t overlook that. You can’t be cocky and think, ‘I’m going to walk right through you,’ because they are stepping into the ONE Circle for a reason. They are dangerous.
“I don’t think anyone should be overlooked. This sport we’re in – it’s the toughest sport in the world. It’s the toughest job in the world. You’ve got to be prepared, but you’ve got to respect your opponent – every single time.”
There is no doubt Lee will respect Xiong more than most because of their first meeting in March, when the Shandong native survived a submission attack to win by knockout in the fifth round.
However, the United MMA and Evolve representative’s mental strength means that although she recognizes her opponent’s achievements, it will not stop her from going toe-to-toe with “The Panda” in Tokyo.
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“For every opponent I’ve ever faced, there’s something that I’ve found to admire about them,” Lee says.
“For Xiong, she’s the ONE Strawweight World Champion, and she’s the World Champion for a reason. I have to respect that about her.
“That doesn’t mean I’m going to be intimidated or that I’m going to have fear because of her status. The respect I have for her is just going to make me fight that much stronger. I use it as motivation.”
This attitude is typical of all the athletes in The Home Of Martial Arts, but completely opposed to what has been promoted by other combat sports promotions in recent years.
While many organizations try to generate interest by sensationalizing animosity between competitors, ONE emphasizes the values embodied by its heroes, and that they are always gracious with their opponents.
Lee is excited to show this to American viewers at ONE: CENTURY, which is the first event to be broadcast live on TNT in prime time.
“I tell anybody who asks me about ONE Championship – it’s a very respectful place and a very respectful organization,” Lee says.
“I think the U.S. fans are going to be so refreshed when they see this kind of promotion – when they see the athletes handling themselves in this kind of manner.
“They can encourage their children to watch ONE Championship. You’re going to see the whole family sit down to watch an event like this. It’s a very unique promotion. I think the U.S. fans are going to love it and they are going to welcome ONE for the first show.”
The ONE Atomweight World Champion’s outlook comes naturally because it was nurtured throughout her upbringing as part of a martial arts family.
Lee’s parents raised her and her brother – reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee – to conduct themselves with dignity long before they entered the spotlight, and that has made them model representatives of their sport now they are stars.
“My brother and I got into this very young, but we’re lucky that we have the guidance from our parents and other people around us to help keep a good head on our shoulders,” she says.
“It helps us remember that before we were World Champions, before we were recognized around the world, we were just two hard-working kids that just wanted to do what they loved.
“It’s important to keep that in mind because this is a crazy world that we live in. You have posters up on buildings for our fights, and we’re broadcast on national television, but having the right people around you to speak in your life – that was the key for us.”
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.