Angela Lee came out swinging and went home smiling after a third-round knockout of Taiwan’s Jenny Huang saw the 20-year-old sensation hold on to her ONE world atomweight title on Saturday night.
“I just go out there and I have so much fun,” said Lee afterwards. “I just really enjoy this whole job. I like everything about it, but the best part is getting inside that cage and fighting.”
Much had been made coming into the bout at Bangkok’s Impact Arena about how the two fighters were evenly matched, with grappling backgrounds that more often than not saw their best work done on the floor.
The pundits got it wrong. For almost the entirety of the fight the pair went toe-to-toe, or knee to midriff and/or head, before the 26-year-old Huang hit the canvas and had no response as the blows rained down.
“We worked a lot on the striking,” said Lee, of the pre-work camp with her father Ken back home in Hawaii. “We did a lot of work on my combinations – and it worked.”
The ONE Championship organisation has a considerable amount invested in Lee, over and above a contract rumored to make the youngster among Asia’s highest-paid female athletes. MMA is still taking root in many markets and the sport out this way needs its heroes, marketable ones most of all.
Lee fits the bill, inside and outside the cage.
Advertising contracts followed her world title win, as increasingly has global attention, and the general feeling around this fight was that nothing short of an impressive victory would match the hype.
Canadian national Lee, who lives in Hawaii and fights out of Singapore, had certainly done the work during her fight camp, cutting her frame into impressive shape. She then delivered.
“It feels amazing,” said Lee. “I can’t describe it right now. Jenny is a warrior, she brought out the best in me. I’m still a 20-year-old kid. I had a plan I had worked hard on with my team and it all came together. I had just worked so hard and I had told everyone coming in I had never felt better before a fight. I think I showed that was true tonight.”
The bill was titled ONE: Warrior Kingdom and Huang certainly lived up to it, giving as good as she got for the most part. In the end Lee’s reach, and some massive early shots fired, did the damage. She fell to 5-1 with the loss while Lee moved to 7-0.
“I’m off to celebrate with my family – and I’ll have a celebratory dessert,” said Lee.