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Angela Lee

Angela Lee has appetite for a fight with 10-month wait for first One Championship title defence finally over

Lean and mean 20-year-old hungry for action after training camp self-restraint as main course comes Saturday night when she takes on Huang in Bangkok

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 10:55am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 4:12pm

Angela Lee will cast off two months of self-restraint on Friday afternoon but the main course will come Saturday night when the 20-year-old sensation makes the first defence of her One Championship atomweight title.

With the weigh-in and hydration testing out of the way, the shackles are off Lee after an intense training camp back home in Hawaii that has left the fighter looking lean and mean before she faces Taiwan’s Jenny Huang.

First, she said she’d be attacking the Italian restaurant near her hotel on the outskirts of Bangkok – “It’s feasting time,” Lee told the Post – then she’d again be fully focused on her return to the cage after 10 months.

“I’ll be having a few training sessions with my dad and my brother (coach Ken and sparring partner Christian), some cardio sessions to keep my weight down and just doing what I’ve been doing,” said Lee.

“I’m definitely not cruising right now but it’s more mental right now and prepare the strategy for what’s going to happen on Saturday. It’s been a while out of the cage for me so I’m bringing in a different sense of enthusiasm. It’s going to be intense, that’s all I have to say.”

The chains come off as Angela Lee can’t wait to get back into the cage

There was a croak to Lee’s voice that the fighter brushed off as a minor complaint picked up during her journey to Bangkok from her home in Hawaii, where the Lee clan has been putting the final touches to the champion’s preparations.

Lee said it had been important to be able to escape the spotlight that has followed her ever since she took the title over Japan’s Mei Yamaguchi last May, making the then-19-year-old the sport’s youngest ever world champion.

Angela Lee ready for date with destiny as MMA’s youngest-ever world champion eyes ONE Championship title defence

That win – after five intense rounds – launched Lee into global prominence in the sport, and to a role of huge importance to the One organisation as it continues to expand its presence across Asia. There have been promotional tours, and sponsorship deals for Lee to attend to as plans for her first title defence slowly came into place. So plenty of distractions while on the road, but 100 per cent focus when back home, Lee said.

“It’s this kind of dual life that I am living,” said Lee. “It’s cool that I can just go back home. Everyone in Hawaii is not star-struck by celebrity – they keep it real. So that also helps me to stay grounded as well.”

The buzz around the main event on a nine-fight card is how two fighters known for their grappling skills will try to work each other out, or go down to the mat.

Lee’s 6-0 record contains five wins via way of submission and three of Huang’s five wins so far (against no losses, too) have come the same way.

Thursday evening saw all the fighters involved in Saturday night’s card at the Impact Arena gathered on the rooftop of the Banyan Tree Bangkok.

The views there are spectacular but those gathered were more focused on checking out how the two headliners would shape up in their face-off.

It’s a traditional pre-fight ritual that’s highlights the show side of this business and Huang was the first to be egged into a little bit of banter by the man holding the microphone.

“You may be very good but I’m going to take that belt off your waist,” said Huang.

Lee took the challenge on the chin, replying: “I’m not really a person who does a lot of trash talking, but in reply to that all I’ll say is that she can try.”

The more serious business will begin when that first bell rings on Saturday.