Teenage sensation Victoria “The Prodigy” Lee lived up to the hype in her ONE Championship debut, and she’s ready to prove that her dominant showcase was not a fluke.
The 17-year-old atomweight, who submitted Sunisa “Thunderstorm” Srisen in February, will return against Chinese veteran “Little Sprouts” Wang Luping at ONE: BATTLEGROUND, a closed-door event that airs live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, 30 July.
It’s another big step for Lee, who’s widely considered the next big thing in mixed martial arts.
Those lofty expectations are partly due to her superstar siblings – ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee and ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee – but Victoria is focused on forging her own path to greatness.
In this exclusive interview, the young phenom shares what she learned in her professional debut, her mindset moving forward, why 2021 has been her most fabulous summer yet, and much more.
ONE Championship: For most high school students, this is their summer vacation, but you are training for an important match. What is your day-to-day schedule like right now?
Victoria Lee: I wake up at seven o’clock, just like I’d be going to school, but I come into the gym instead. And then I train until 10:30, go home, have lunch, and just relax and take care of my dogs. And then I’m back in the gym for that evening session.
ONE: Let’s talk about your first professional bout in February. What event week like, especially with the unique circumstances surrounding the show?
VL: There was a lot of familiarity, but also, it felt different because I was able to see the process from my brother and sister competing. I kind of knew the flow of the interviews and the photoshoots and stuff.
But being in the seat, answering the questions, and being in the center taking the pictures is a completely different experience. Overall, I enjoyed the whole experience.
I do wish that my family could have come with me, but the COVID restrictions in Singapore were very strict. I was just lucky enough to have my mom and dad be there.
ONE: What was the biggest lesson you learned from that fight against Sunisa Srisen?
VL: I’ve been able to take away a lot of experience from that fight. Going into this next fight, I feel a lot more prepared. I know exactly the flow of how things are going to go.
Going into my last fight, I listened to my coaches explain it to me, but now I have the experience as well as the knowledge from them. And I think that it will help me even more for this camp.
ONE: As you mentioned, you’re gearing up for your next fight. What do you know about your opponent, Wang Luping?
VL: I think my next opponent is more experienced than Srisen. I think that she is a well-rounded, power-based fighter, and I think that our styles match up well. This is going to be a good fight for me.
I think that her biggest strength is her striking. She seems like a power-based striker – throwing to knock you out. But I’ve also been improving my striking, my grappling, wrestling, the whole MMA game. And so I think the way that I mix it up in a fight, it’s going to neutralize her strengths.
ONE: Wang said that she believes her striking is better than yours. Do you have any response to that?
VL: I think that every fighter has to have confidence in themselves in order to take a fight. And to me, it doesn’t really matter what my opponents say. It only matters what happens inside of the cage.
So I’m just focusing on myself and not whatever is going on on the other side, and then we’ll just see what happens when we meet in the cage.
ONE: You will have a height and reach advantage. What kind of benefits do those bring you, especially going up against a striker who’s looking to get inside to land power shots?
VL: I think that I can use my height and reach to my advantage on controlling the ranges for mixing up the strikes and the takedowns.
However, although she’s a shorter fighter with a shorter reach, I’m not discrediting her because footwork can make up for the range disadvantage. So I will be sharp, and I’m not going to underestimate her.
ONE: What advice have you gotten from Angela and Christian for this matchup with Wang?
VL: Similar to my last fight, where my opponent also had more experience than me, I feel like it will be a similar process going into this fight. A similar frame of mind of just staying focused and trusting the training that we’ve been doing, trusting the game plan, and just pushing to finish.
ONE: In a perfect world, how would you like this bout to end?
VL: This fight is going to end in a first-round finish.
ONE: Do you have any preference for how you’d like to finish this match?
VL: The way that we train here [at United MMA], the way that my dad trains us, is just to go for the finish wherever that may be because we’re in a fight. And so quickest kill is the way to go.
ONE: There’s a lot of hype surrounding you as fans have seen how quickly your brother and sister made their way to World Title gold. But what would you say to the people who maybe don’t believe the hype?
VL: Well, my family has definitely helped me so much throughout this journey, giving me everything that I need to succeed. And some advice that they’ve shared with me is to just block out everything.
Block out all the negative comments and even the positive ones, too, because everyone outside of your circle is just irrelevant. The only people who matter are your family, and so that’s what I’ve been doing. And I’ve managed to stay focused on my fight and ignore everything going around outside.
ONE: How important is it to maintain your undefeated record?
VL: Well, I treat each fight like it is the most important fight of my life because it is. My goal is to be the best one day and to be a World Champion. So I have to treat every fight like it is the most important fight of my life, and that’s what I’m doing right now.
ONE: What would make this the best summer of your life?
VL: This already is the best summer of my life. I have an amazing job, and this summer, I get to spend it with my two nieces for the first time, Ava Marie and Alia Mae. So, I would say this is by far the best summer for me.