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Angela Lee

Tattoo reward as ‘unstoppable’ Angela Lee defends MMA title with Huang knockout

Sport’s youngest champ to get new tattoo to remind her of tough victory over Taiwan fighter

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 1:13am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 12:07pm

History is a hard thing to erase and Angela Lee was set to mark the latest chapter in hers on Sunday with a new tattoo.

The 20-year-old will never forget Thailand and the first defence of her ONE world atomweight championship – the ink will ensure that, as will the replays of her punishing victory over Jenny Huang.

“This was just a very special moment for me, to get back in the cage to do what I do best, which is to fight,” was Lee’s post-bout reaction, after she had returned to the fray after a break of 10 months.

It took the Hawaii-based fighter until the third round to finally lay the gritty challenger to waste with a knockout that had seemed an eternity in coming for fans inside the Impact Arena.

The money coming in was on Lee, as were the hopes of the ONE Championship organisation which has pinned its hopes on the youngster as it continues to lay down the framework for the sport across the region.

Huang was the first Taiwanese fighter to make it to a world MMA title bout and the 26-year-old was brave to the end, unable to cope with her opponent’s greater height and reach but skilled enough to send a few shockwaves back of her own before the referee waved things to and end.

Now both Lee and ONE can continue to spread the world, both through the region, and around the world.

The undercard featured a number of Asia’s rising stars, not least among them the 20-year-old phenom Joshua Pacio from the Philippines who fought one of the local heroes in Dejdamrong sor Amnuaysirichoke, a former ONE strawweight world champ and a man whose muay thai career lasted longer than Pacio has so far walked the earth.

It went to the judges – and to Pacio (9-1) – after a pulsating bout that saw both fighters swing arms and knees to the point of exhaustion. The crowd, fuelled in the end by six wins for the locals on the nine-bout card, went wild, and the ONE Championship honchos looked very happy indeed.

Saturday night’s performance that suggested the reign of the queen of the sport in Asia might well be a long one, considering how much she still as to learn her tender age.

“I had a plan I had worked hard on with my team and it all came together,” said Lee. “I had just worked so hard and I had told everyone coming in I had never felt better before a fight. I think I showed that was true tonight.”

What had fans out of their feet was the fact both fighters stood toe-to-toe for so long, considering the records of both fighters are stacked with victories via way of submission. Huang was game but found Lee’s reach advantage tough to deal with as her record fell to 5-1. Lee’s moved to 7-0.

Lee had not been seen in actions since last May, and a world title victory over Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi that had made her the youngest world champion in the sport’s history at 19.

The worry coming in to Bangkok was that the whirlwind of publicity that has swept Lee up in that time might have distracted her but such concerns were quickly dispelled at her first appearance here – Lee looked in fantastic shape – and with the first punch she threw Huang’s way, a left that landed flush after 30 seconds made her intentions crystal clear.

Asked after raising her belt to the rafters if she had wanted to make a statement, Lee said she just wanted her efforts in the cage to do the talking for her.

“I’m a fighter and that’s what we do,” she said.

Victories to six Thai fighters on the undercard had raised the atmosphere to fever pitch by the time the main event rolled around. The crowd wanted more action – and they got it.