It’s not easy to be a woman in a sport that’s largely comprised of male athletes, but atomweight mixed martial artist Lea Bivins has pressed forward.
Along the way, she’s gotten some help from a few of ONE Championship’s biggest stars.
The 19-year-old American – who will make her professional MMA debut against Zeba Bano at ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash on July 22 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium – takes motivation from the famous Lee fighting family.
For years, she watched in awe as ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee dominated the division and achieved superstar status in the organization.
And more recently, Bivins has seen “Unstoppable’s” younger sister, Victoria Lee, emerge as a rising star with a sparkling 3-0 pro record.
“[The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome] I would say is the female aspect of going into a male-dominated sport, especially because I’m one of the only girls at the gym. Most of my training partners are males.
“There are a lot of stereotypes about what people expect to see a professional fighter. They don’t usually expect to see a female professional fighter. That’s why I always grew up watching Angela Lee and Victoria. They’re amazing athletes.”
While “First Moon” was originally inspired from afar, her relationship with the Lees didn’t end there.
She met Victoria as part of Team USA at an international youth MMA tournament in 2019, and the two athletes formed a close relationship that remains to this day.
Bivins told ONE Championship:
“Me, Victoria, and some of her other United MMA teammates were all on the team [for the World Championships]. So that’s where that bond and friendship came from. We both placed that year as well. And it’s grown into an amazing friendship.”
Lea Bivins Has Learned From The Best At United MMA
The bond grew stronger when Lea Bivins was invited to train with the Lees at their United MMA gym in Hawaii.
Coming from her own family gym – House of Moons, run by her father, Anthony Bivins – “First Moon” thought she knew what to expect.
At the same time, she says that working alongside Victoria Lee and her World Championship-winning siblings, Angela Lee and Christian Lee, was a next-level experience.
“I got to go out there for Victoria’s first pro fight camp. It was amazing, and I was so blessed to even have that type of opportunity. Angela, Christian, Victoria, even Adrian, their youngest brother, they’re all amazing. And to see another martial arts family just like mine that trains even harder? They push a different pace at that gym, definitely. And you can see that when they go out and fight.
“It was amazing to see her professional fight camp, and being able to come back to my home gym knowing the level and the pace I should be pushing to go out there and compete with some of the best in the world.”
After getting an insider’s look at what it takes to become an elite competitor in MMA, Bivins believes her own development has leveled up at a massive rate.
Plus, she feels a lasting impact from the Lees that extends beyond their martial arts skills.
Above all, it was the family’s hospitality and generosity that made “First Moon” a major fan – and a close friend – for life.
“They’re honestly just genuinely great people, even coach [Ken] Lee. They go out there, and they really want the best for you as a training partner. They’re not out there to hurt you. They’re there to help you.
“Victoria helped me a lot with everything, just becoming a more well-rounded fighter, seeing a different fight camp. Getting taken out of my own home gym and going to a different gym for a different training, that was totally cool to me.”