“Unstoppable” Angela Lee is paying close attention to every bout in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix.
The tournament’s ultimate winner will get the chance to challenge her for the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship when the Singaporean-American returns to action in 2022, so she has a vested interest in the bracket’s remaining four participants.
“I’ve been keeping a very close eye on the matchups, and whoever is advancing to the next round,” Lee reveals.
“I’m looking at everybody. I’m strategizing, and so anybody who comes to find me at the end of the tournament, I have a plan for them.”
The first four bouts threw up some surprises and gave the reigning atomweight queen the chance to size up some of her potential challengers.
“I thought the matchups were very interesting to start off the Grand Prix,” she says.
“It was very exciting to see who came out on top. A lot of the underdogs ended up taking the win. And, of course, there was a lot of controversy as well.”
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“The durability of Ritu stood out to me. She was able to weather the storm. Meng Bo was gunning for the knockout, and she was able to take her down, control her, and come out with the win,” the Singaporean-American says.
“I think the fight that stood out to me the most was Stamp versus Rassohyna. I thought that it was a very exciting and competitive fight.”
Those victories have made the semifinals even more intriguing. Phogat will go up against Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata, who edged out Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson, while Stamp will face off against Brazilian sensation Julie Mezabarba.
Ham Seo Hee defeated Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga by razor-close split decision in one of the most talked-about encounters, but an injury forced the South Korean out of the tournament.
Some heat had been building between Zamboanga and Lee, especially since the Filipina had been tipped as one of the favorites to win it all. But her loss against the other Grand Prix favorite, Ham, has now put a different spin on the semifinals.
“It’s funny because Denice and Ham Seo Hee were both the favorites in the tournament and now moving onto the next round, they’re both eliminated. So really, it’s anyone’s game,” Lee says.
“With Julie stepping into the tournament now, it’s a huge plot twist, and things are going to get interesting. Especially in this next round in the tournament, nobody was expecting her to be in it, and now she is. So, let’s see how that goes.”
Lee is looking forward to seeing the semifinal bouts at ONE: NEXTGEN, and she expects the participants to bring a new level of action and excitement into the Circle.
And while the semifinal matchups are finely balanced, the Singaporean-American does have her own picks to progress through to the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final.
“Itsuki versus Ritu and Stamp versus Julie are going to be very interesting fights and should be very exciting,” the atomweight queen explains.
“I think that there’s a high chance that we’ll see Stamp versus Ritu in the final. I think they’re both very good fighters. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but it’ll be fun to see because it’s a typical striker versus grappler [matchup].
“But, with that being said, you know you can’t count anyone out after the quarterfinals.”
Watching all of the division’s top contenders duke it out has given Lee the itch to compete again.
Now back in training at United MMA after her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Ava Marie, the atomweight queen can’t wait to see who will emerge victorious and challenge her in 2022.
“My training is going great. I’m really feeling like myself again, and I’m so lucky that I’m able to train full-time alongside my sister, Victoria [Lee],” she says.
“As this tournament goes on, it just gets me more fired up to get back into the cage, and I can’t wait to come back.”