ONE atomweight world champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee had a big year away from the ONE Championship Circle in 2021, with the birth of her daughter. But now, the reigning queen is getting prepared for a return in the new year. First on her list will be the recently crowned ONE women’s atomweight world grand prix champion, Stamp Fairtex.
The Thai star stunned the mixed martial arts world with a second-round submission over Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat at ONE: Winter Warriors on Dec. 3. The result was an emphatic statement that the former ONE atomweight kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion has rounded out her skill set to become a threat no matter where the action takes place. But, don’t count Lee as somebody who is shocked by her new rival’s well-developed ground game.
“I think everyone must be shocked that Stamp won via armbar, but I’m actually not too surprised,” Lee told ONE Championship. “I did expect Stamp to have a more well-rounded MMA game, and in the fight, you could see that. I think that her grappling game has definitely improved. You can see the improvements, especially in that fight with Ritu. And Stamp, as soon as she got to the ground, got taken down, she went right to work to set up that triangle. I think she did a great job.”
Both women will have plenty to prove when they meet inside ONE’s patented Circle to contest the atomweight strap. Stamp will be eyeing a world championship in a third sport. Lee will be looking to prove her harshest critics wrong by returning to form in her fifth title defense.
“People are saying that pregnancy has changed me, and being a mom has made me a weaker fighter, but I’m looking to prove them wrong,” said Lee. “So, I think that we both have a lot to prove going into this fight.
“I know what it takes to get to the title, and I know what it takes to defend the title. So, when I’m preparing to make my comeback, I’m going to be going above and beyond what needs to be done to make sure that you don’t see any kind of ring rust when I step in that cage.”
The Hawaii-based athlete has been impressed by Stamp’s growth as a grappler. Still, she is not expecting her newest challenger to turn this into a battle on the canvas. With her highlight reel chocked full of submissions, the United MMA standout expects the Thai star’s coaches to draw up a different game plan.
But, if the action does stay standing, Lee is not afraid of mixing it up with one of the top strikers in the world, as she knows that the threat of grappling could open holes for her to exploit against her respective challenger.
“There’s a lot more threats with the takedown, with the groundwork, and so forth,” said the 25-year-old. “I think that me and my team, we’re going to be going back to the tapes, we’re going to be studying her and how she is in her MMA fights, and we’re going to be looking to expose some weaknesses that we see – and capitalize on them.”
Even with her drive and confidence, Unstoppable is not about to reveal how she plans to defend her ONE women’s atomweight world championship. She is keeping that information close to her vest.
“I’m not about to give that away,” said the champ. “I’m keeping that a secret. Me and my team have been working hard to game-plan, and you’re going to see me execute that when we meet in the cage.”
The atomweight title tilt is set to happen in early 2022, with Lee’s return one of the most highly-anticipated stories of the new year.