EXCLUSIVE | Angela Lee hopes to become “baddest female fighter” with first-round win over Xiong Jing Nan

Angela Lee

At ONE: Heart of The Lion, which goes down on November 9 in Singapore, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee (9-0) will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Aung La N Sang and Martin Nguyen and enter the history books as a ONE two-weight World Champion. In order to accomplish this mammoth feat, she’ll have to wrest the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title from the waist of fearsome champion Xiong Jing Nan.

While Angela Lee recognizes that the task ahead will not be easy, she says she is currently enjoying one of the best training camps of her career. That, she explains, is due in part to the fact that she will be fighting Xiong at 125 pounds, rather than 115 pounds, where she normally competes.

“This training camp has been hands down my best training camp in my whole career, actually,” Lee said on episode 101 of BJPENN.COM Radio. “I’ve had more than enough time to get ready, we’ve been training specifically in so many different areas, we have a solid game plan, and my weight descent is something that has been above and beyond what all my other camps have been like. Because I’m going to be fighting at 125 pounds instead of 115 pounds, that makes a huge difference for me. My body feels a lot more healthy and it feels strong, it feels better than ever at this weight.”

The 22-year-old Angela Lee says she used to have no difficulty staying near the ONE atomweight division’s 115-pound limit, but admits that it’s gotten a little trickier as she’s gotten older. And because ONE doesn’t allow extreme weight cutting, that could wind up being a little problematic for her reign as atomweight queen. Although she hopes to continue defending her atomweight title after her fight with Xiong, she feels that she might be better suited for the 125-pound division in the long-term.

“In the beginning, it was okay, but I feel like as the years went by with more and more title defenses, it’s gotten harder and harder to stay at that weight,” she said of her reign as the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion. “I just feel not 100 percent at that weight. I make that weight, but I don’t feel like I have the power and the strength that I normally have when I’m training. So I think this move over is a good idea. I mean, who knows? If I feel like I’m walking closer to 25 and I want to go back down and fight in both divisions and stay active in both divisions, that may be a possibility, as well.”

“This is the goal that I’m having right now,” she added. “I’m going to take over the 125 belt and fight in this division, but I still want to be able to get my walking weight closer to 115 so it’s not such a big drastic weight cut for me, so I want to be able to fight in both divisions.”

While Angela Lee considers this move up to 125 pounds a practical one, that’s certainly not the only reason she’s doing it. Capturing a second ONE Championship title would also be a massive feather in her cap.

“This is about the legacy,” she said. “When I actually first got into the organization — of course every fighter has big dreams for himself, herself, — one of my dreams was one to become a world champion, but not just to stop there, to become a two-division world champion. That’s something that is going to be happening very soon, in just a month’s time.

“I mean, everyone, once they reach the highest level possible, they say, ‘What’s next?’ And of course it’s maintaining that unblemished record, destroying all my opponents each time I get in the ring, but also I want to challenge myself to step up to the next division, to own that division, and I want to make sure that I’m known as the baddest female fighter in my time,” she continued.

In Xiong Jing Nan, Angela Lee faces a ferocious puncher who has looked pretty much unbeatable under the ONE banner. Nonetheless, she’s extremely confident she can take Xiong’s belt — inside a round.

“I’ve watched a couple of her fights and I’ve been keeping a close eye on her since she won the title,” Lee said of her opponent. “Her background is in boxing, so she’s got heavy hands. She’s really aggressive when she gets in there and she tends to use a lot of power over her opponents. I don’t think she’s fought anyone like me before. The way I mix it up, I’m very dynamic in all my ranges, and I don’t think that she’ll be able to keep up. I’m not scared of her strikes, I can stand in there and I can bang with her, but of course I’m gonna take this to where I’m most comfortable. And I feel like I’m gonna finish her real fast in the first round.”

“We prepared real good for this fight, we’ve been bringing in a lot of well-rounded fighters, a lot of heavy hands, girls who can throw down, and we’ve been training for this,” she continued. “So I think that when I get in there, she leaves herself really exposed when she strikes ’cause she throws everything into it. I think I’ll be able to close the distance pretty quick, take her down and sub her, or pound her out on the ground.”

However this fight ends up going, Angela Lee is excited for the opportunity to cement herself as one of the best fighters in the world with a second title win.

“I’m very grateful that ONE Championship offered me the chance to fight in the next weight class up and to be the possible two-division champ for the female category,” she said. “So I’m definitely gonna seize this opportunity, I’m not gonna take it for granted.”

Do you think Angela Lee can capture a second ONE title at ONE: Heart of the Lion on November 9?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/15/2018.