Lee Ready For Stamp: ‘She’s Going To Be Entering My World Now’
The next challenger for ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee has finally been revealed, and the reigning queen couldn’t be any more excited to get back inside the Circle.
This past Friday, Thai megastar Stamp Fairtex defeated Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat to win the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS in Singapore.
With the victory, Stamp earned the tournament’s prestigious silver belt and the next shot at Lee’s World Title gold.
For her part, “Unstoppable” has reigned over the division ever since she defeated Japanese veteran Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi for the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title in May 2016.
Lee went on to defend the throne four times before announcing she was pregnant with her first child last October. As a result, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong revealed that the World Grand Prix would keep the division active and decide the Singaporean-American’s next challenger upon her return.
That challenger turned out to be Stamp, who previously held both the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Titles. Moreover, her tournament triumph came in surprising fashion, as the decorated striker submitted wrestling icon Phogat on the ground.
If the Fairtex fighter does dethrone “Unstoppable” for the mixed martial arts belt, she would become the first three-sport ONE World Champion in history.
In this interview, Lee reviews the Grand Prix finale, breaks down her upcoming matchup with Stamp, gives Phogat some valuable advice, and much more.
ONE Championship: What were your thoughts on the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final between Stamp and Ritu?
Angela Lee: It was a great fight. I think everyone must be shocked that Stamp won via armbar, but I’m actually not too surprised. I did expect Stamp to have a more well-rounded MMA game, and in the fight, you could see that. You could see that Stamp had the more well-rounded MMA game, and I think her team had a really smart strategy for her.
ONE: How would you assess Stamp’s grappling given the submission win against Ritu?
AL: I think that her grappling game has definitely improved. You can see the improvements, especially in that fight with Ritu.
You know, [Ritu’s] got great takedowns, but the ground game, you don’t really see her improving her position from there or looking for the finish. A lot of times, she kind of just controls her opponents when she gets the takedown. But I do see that – in previous fights as well – she left herself exposed at times or was susceptible for submissions.
And Stamp, as soon as she got to the ground, got taken down, she went right to work to set up that triangle. I think she did a great job.
ONE: This was a tough loss for Ritu. What advice would you give to her?
AL: This is not the end of the road. It’s just the beginning for her. It was a great opportunity, and to be in the final of the [ONE Women’s Atomweight World] Grand Prix Championship. That’s impressive on its own. So, she should be proud of herself and how far she made it. And I think that after this match, she’s just got to go back to the gym, keep training, and keep working on evolving her game.
ONE: You will defend your World Title against Stamp in 2022, and there will be many critics talking about ring rust. As someone who’s been away from the Circle for two years, what are your thoughts?
AL: You know what? I think that there are some things that are true and some things that are untrue when it comes to being away from fighting for a few years.
I’ve been the champion since 2016. I know what it takes to get to the title, and I know what it takes to defend the title. So when I’m preparing to make my comeback, I’m going to be going above and beyond what needs to be done to make sure that you don’t see any kind of ring rust when I step in that cage. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I’m ready for that.
I know that these girls have been actively competing. Stamp has been fighting back-to-back for the past year, so I know that’s definitely going to be to her advantage, and that’s what’s going to motivate me to train even harder during this fight camp.
ONE: If Stamp defeats you, she’ll become the first three-sport ONE World Champion in history. Knowing that, do you feel any extra pressure?
AL: I think we both have a lot of pressure going into this fight. With Stamp, definitely, I have been seeing the news and seeing how she’s gunning for that third World Title. But for me, there’s a lot of pressure as well. And for me, I’m going to be looking to retain my title for the fifth time – and doing it in a very successful way.
Everyone’s looking to see how I’m going to be – how I’m going to look in the fight because of the time off. People are saying that pregnancy has changed me and being a mom has made me a weaker fighter, but I’m looking to prove them wrong. So, I think that we both have a lot to prove going into this fight.
And Stamp, she’s been World Champion. She’s the Grand Prix Champion right now. She’s a former [ONE Atomweight] Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion. She knows what it takes to be at the highest level competing.
But that’s in her world, and she’s going to be entering my world now.
ONE: Finally, we need to ask: How do you plan to beat Stamp when you two meet in 2022?
AL: I’m not about to give that away. I’m keeping that a secret. Me and my team have been working hard to game plan, and you’re going to see me execute that when we meet in the Circle.
Read more: 3 Major Takeaways From ONE: WINTER WARRIORS