One Championship atomweight titleholder Angela Lee returns to action on Friday in the co-main event of the promotion’s “Masters of Destiny” card.
In March, she tasted defeat for the first time in an attempt to move up and dethrone current strawweight champion Jingnan Xiong. When she competes inside Kuala Lumpur’s Axiata Arena, she won’t be returning to atomweight. Instead, she will once again fight at strawweight and look to upend Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Michelle Nicolini.
“After the fight in March, I didn’t really take too much physical damage. It was more like mentally trying to get out of the funk [of losing],” Lee told Sherdog. “But I wanted to get back in there as soon as I could, and kind of like dust it off, and have a fresh start, because I was super motivated to train and just hungry to get back in there. When they offered me this fight, I jumped on it and I said, ‘yea let’s do it.’ I probably signed [the contract] that day.”
As “Unstoppable” focuses on the task at hand on Friday, she is in the unusual situation of already knowing who her next opponent will be. On June 30, One Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced that Lee and Xiong will face-off once again -- this time for the atomweight title -- in the co-main event of the promotion’s “Century” event in October. Lee was asked if it will be a challenge to focus on Nicolini, knowing the opportunity to avenge her lone loss is in the near future.
“After the fight in March, I knew we were going to meet up again,” says Lee. “I just didn’t know when or where. When the news broke on One Championship’s [100th event] in Tokyo -- that I was going to be headlining it -- it was news to me. I was like, ‘OK, I guess that’s happening.’ I didn’t have any complaints, and it didn’t really shift my focus too much. I was always prepared for it. Regarding this Friday, it didn’t change my focus at all. Actually, I have even more motivation to finish the fight.”
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog, Lee also discusses the differences in competing at atomweight and strawweight and the training missteps that lead to her loss in March at “A New Era.” The 10-fight veteran also talked about her and Nicolini’s past at Evolve MMA.