Adrian Lee (@adrianleemma/Instagram page)

ONE 167’s Adrian Lee: Plans to Finish Debut in the First Round

On Friday, Jun. 7, ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II features an amazing line-up of Muay Thai, kickboxing, submission grappling and MMA fights. The fourth bout on the card features the professional debut of Adrian Lee, younger brother of ONE Championship royalty Angela and Christian, as well as the late Victoria Lee, who was 3-0 in the promotion. At ONE 167, Adrian Lee faces Australia’s Antonio Mammarella. Combat Press writer Dan Kuhl recently interviewed Lee ahead of his pro debut.

When you were growing up, did you think you’d be at this point at your life – making your professional debut for ONE Championship – at Age 18?

You know, I don’t know if I thought I’d be exactly 18, but I’ve been looking forward to my ONE debut for as long as I can remember.


What was life like growing up for you?

You know, as we grew up, we were always in the gym every day – me and my siblings – under my dad’s gym. We were always training, day-in and day-out – getting the workout in. I think my earliest memory would have to be when my siblings first started competing, and, like, probably in one of the NAGA grappling tournaments where we all went to.

When you were growing up, what art were you most interested in when you first got into martial arts? Were you more drawn to the striking, the grappling?

I think I was probably more drawn to the grappling, just because, ever since we were young, we always grew up with the grappling as our base.

Is there any particular aspect you like about submission grappling more?

I think I like the wrestling and the scrambles, you know. It’s always lots of fun.

What about striking? What is there any particular striking art you were more leaning towards?

I think, for my MMA game, my stand-up is kind of all mixed in together, because we never drilled or trained in a specific art, like in boxing or Muay Thai. We just sort of did it as a whole.

What was like the biggest learning experience that you picked up in your amateur fights?

I think one thing was learning to the nerves. The nerves are definitely a big part of my game, man. It can definitely change the fight a lot. So I’ve learned to deal with them better with the nerves.

Of your three siblings, which one do you think you learned the most from watching fight?

I think I learned the most from my brother, because he’s my head coach, and he’s been training me day every day.

What do you do when you’re not in the gym training? What do you like to do for fun?

I’ll sleep, but there’s not much else. I don’t have much going on outside of MMA. It’s just training, sleeping, training, video games. I do head to the beach every now and then, like on weekends, but it’s mostly just training.

What would be your number-one cheat meal like if you weren’t training for a fight, and you were going to splurge on some food?

It’s definitely pizza – you know, pepperoni – or a loaf of bread. I really like bread.

Did you always expect that you would go to ONE, or did you think it might be something else?

I never expected myself to just go into ONE, just because all of my siblings were in ONE already. However, it’s always been a dream of mine. I’ve always like dreamt of it, and it was always my goal, but I never saw it as something that’s going to be given.

Do you have any other ideas of what you would do with your life if you weren’t fighting? 

Well, as of right now, MMA is my only focus. It’s the only thing I’ll be doing for the next two years or decades. And it’s 100-percent my only focus.

Do your parents ever give you any pressure to have a back-up plan?

They did say it’s good to have a back-up plan. However, they do support my decision to just go full-bore into it.

What would be the back-up plan?

It might be real estate with my family’s company.

Where are you currently training?

United MMA is actually reopened as Prodigy Training Center, so I’ve been training there.

Are there any times you ever disagree with your brother on the training; like, what you’re doing or the things that you think you should be doing differently that he doesn’t agree with or vice versa?

I don’t. We rarely ever disagree, and I think it’s because I fully trust my brother as a coach, so I always listen to whatever he says.

What did it mean to you when you saw him win that second title?

It meant a lot to me, because I was just so excited and happy for my brother. And, being able to be in his corner and sharing it with him, it was, like, a super exciting day.

What about with the Angela? Obviously, she’s one of the most talented female athletes, MMA athletes, or probably any athlete in the world. Then, she decided to hang it up. What what what was going through your mind when she made that decision?

I thought it was great. I thought it’s great that she decides to move on to different things and onto a different path. It’s just a different time of her life now.

Is there something specific about your sister Victoria and her legacy that inspires you the most when you’re moving forward?

My sister, she had a really great sense of hard work and dedication. And, I think that’s one big thing I take away, and it always helps me stay focused on my training.

What do you know about your upcoming opponent?

I know that he’s he’s had a few fights on the amateur and pro side, and that he’s a good decent boxer and wrestler. So, I’m excited to see how the fight turns out.

Is there anything that sticks out stylistically?

There’s not too many things I’m concerned about, but I do see that he has good stand-up and wrestling.

When did you find out about being on this card?

I had a full eight-to-nine week camp leading up to this fight,

Did you care who the opponent was?

Um, I did. I did, in the sense that, I care about who I’m facing, and what my game plan will be to finish as soon as possible. However I’m willing to take any fight.

What do you want people to know about you?

You know, they should tune-in and watch me, because it’s going to be one exciting fight, and I plan to finish it quick. So you better be watching. I do plan to finish in the first round.

How do you feel about ONE Championship’s scoring; where it is judged as a whole fight versus round-by-round?

It is really great how how ONE Championship has a different score set compared to other organizations, and how they judge it as a whole fight as opposed to round-by-round. But, going into this fight and my future fights, we don’t really think too much into that, because our main goal is to finish in the first round and as soon as possible.

We have seen MMA athletes, like Jarred Brooks, doing crossover bouts, like in kickboxing, Muay Thai or submission grappling. If you had the chance, which one are you taking first?

I think I’m going to the grappling for the first try – a grappling match.

Are you calling out a Ruotolo?

Not as right now, but maybe in the future.