ONE atomweight champion Angela Lee, like many other fighters, is currently playing a bit of a waiting game. While she was recently linked to a title defense opposite the undefeated Denise Zamboanga, that plan was put on ice when the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
“Everything is up in the air,” Lee told BJPENN.com from her home in Hawaii. “I’m definitely still training with Denise in mind, but anything can happen.
“I’m just staying ready for whatever right now.”
As Lee suggests, she has been able to continue training during the current crisis. Her family owns United MMA, her home gym, so she, her brother Christian Lee, and husband Bruno Pucci — all ONE Championship fighters — have been able to continue working out behind closed doors.
“My family and I, we’re super lucky because we own United MMA,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had to suspend the classes until further notice, but me, my brother, my husband, my little siblings, we’ve all been able to use the gym during this time, training and lifting weights. We feel really blessed.”
Lee was also recently involved in Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home initiative, of which ONE Championship was a part. Lee helped spread awareness about the event, and broadcasted an online training session with her brother as part of the festivities.
“It was an honor to be a part of that,” Lee said. “[Global Citizen] is doing such great things and raising money for great causes.
“My brother and I, we did an Instagram live [for the event] a few days ago. We just told everyone what we’ve been doing: We’ve been stretching every day, we showed some basic martial arts technique and some drills fans can do, and then a little burnout at the end — some fitness things. It was great. Fans tuned in, and it was nice to be a part of that.
“So many people are being affected by this pandemic, and just to contribute a little bit, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Between her training and her duties as one of ONE Championship’s biggest stars, Lee has managed to stay very busy during this unprecedented time. The urge to return to competition, of course, is mounting.
When ONE Championship resumes operations, Lee believes her previously rumored fight with Zamboanga will likely be made official. She views this matchup as a solid challenge.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on all of the atomweight contenders and [Zamboanga] was definitely on my radar, especially after her fight with Mei Yamaguchi,” Lee said. “She managed to have a decisive victory over Mei, and I think she definitely poses a threat. She’s a very well rounded fighter.”
Angela Lee spent much of 2019 tied up with a rivalry with ONE strawweight champ Xiong Jingnan. She lost the pair’s first bout, for the strawweight title, by fifth-round TKO. She then evened the score in the rematch, with her atomweight belt on the line, via fifth-round submission. While Zamboanga would represent a welcome break from her rivalry with Xiong, Lee feels she has unfinished business with the strawweight champ, and hopes they can meet in a trilogy fight soon.
“Before this pandemic happened, my goal was to get back on board and gun for that strawweight title,” Lee said. “I’m not sure when that’s going to happen, but it’s definitely on my mind.”
Whenever her next fight occurs, and whether it’s against Zamboanga, Xiong, or somebody else, Angela Lee is excited to get back into the cage and do what she does best.
After the current crisis, it’s all going to feel that much sweeter.
“It’s going to feel great,” Lee said. “It’s been so long since things have been normal, since we’ve been able to travel and fight. I think everyone’s kind of itching to get back to normal life—including the fighters. It’s definitely going to be a hell of a show, the first ONE Championship card back.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/22/2020.