Lee clan prepares to make history in One Championship as the pair bids to become the sport’s first brother and sister champion duo
Both Angela and Christian fight former foes with world titles on the line in Singapore
The Lee family believes destiny is there for the taking.
While Angela “Unstoppable” Lee (8-0) prepares to defend her world atomweight title on the One: Unstoppable Dreams card in Singapore on May 18, younger brother “The Warrior” Christian (9-1) has his sights set on a world title of his own in the featherweight division.
“It’s definitely history in the making,” said Christian Lee on Thursday. “It’s going to be the biggest night of our lives, for sure.”
Standing in front of the Lees at the Singapore Indoor Stadium will be atomweight challenger Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi (17-10-1) and featherweight incumbent Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen (10-2).
Both are determined to block the siblings’ path to what the One Championship are claiming would be history.
Victory would make Christian (at 19 years, 11 months) the sport’s youngest-ever male world champion and it would also be the first time a brother-sister combination has claimed world MMA titles. That Angela became the sport’s youngest ever female champion when she won the title at 19 in 2016 adds even more colour to this storyline.
Talking to the pair on Thursday, it was clear that the excitement was palpable.
“This is an accumulation of all these years of training and competing alongside each other,” said Angela Lee. “From kids, to reach the highest level possible is just really a special moment for us. We’ll go out there and do our thing and have fun with it but we aren’t forgetting that this is a history-making moment.”
While two years separate the pair – with Angela now at 21 and Christian at 19 – the tight bond they share is unmistakable, evident both when they are in each other’s company and when they are positing across social media.
“Christian and I have been tight every since we were babies – we’re best friends,” said Angela Lee. “It’s just the way my parents raised us to be.”
Christian Lee laughed off a request to reveal any spats he might have had with his elder sister over the years.
“We kill ourselves every single day in the gym,” said Christian Lee. “By the time we’re out of there we have no more energy left for any of that.”
Both live in Hawaii but fight out of their father Ken’s home town of Singapore. Ken guides training and fight camps with mother Jewelz, while younger siblings Victoria (14) and Adrian (12) are waiting in the wings.
“They are definitely little beasts on the mat,” said Angela Lee. “But we’re not forcing them. We want them to find their own path and their own passion.”
It’s been a tumultuous six months for the pair, with Angela surviving a life threatening early morning crash in Hawaii back in November – walking away with bruising and concussion.
“I didn’t rush the process of recovery,” said Angela Lee. “I took as much time as was needed to heal up. Mentally, physically, emotionally, I am feeling better than ever. It’s been a long journey back but I have been primed for this for months and this has been by far the best fight camp I have ever had.”
What adds more spice to next week’s clashes is that all these fighters have previous.
When Angela took her title in Singapore in May 2016, she had to withstand a furious onslaught from the Japanese veteran Yamaguchi before taking the unanimous decision. The only blot on Christian’s stellar rise through the MMA ranks came with a loss via guillotine choke to Australia’s Nguyen in Macau back in August 2016.
The 35-year-old Yamaguchi has been promising a knockout this time around, while the 29-year-old Nguyen counts seven knockouts among his wins, including the showreel favourites that came when he laid waste to Marat “Cobra” Gafurov (16-1) to claim the One featherweight crown and then to Eduard “Landslide” Folayang (18-6) to claim the lightweight title.
Sparks are expected to fly, given the natural development both Lees have shown.
Angela has dismantled two opponents since winning her title, with a TKO over Taiwan’s Jenny Huang (5-3) and an anaconda choke bringing the challenge of Brazil’s Istela Nunez de Souza (5-1) to an early end.
“It’s been two years and I’ve grown so much as a fighter, sharpening up every aspect of my training,” said Angela Lee. “It’s all come together really nicely and I’m excited to show people what I have been working on.”
Christian has meanwhile brushed off the disappointment of defeat to Nguyen the first time around and has added obvious bulk to his physique and maturity to a fight game that has seen him go on a 4-0 tear since. He’s also picked up his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
“As a fighter I have completely reinvented my game,” said Christian Lee. “I’m a whole new fighter. I’ve learned in my past four fights and over the past two years and there’s just been a tremendous amount of experience and maturity that I have gained. The fight will play out very differently this time. I’m ready to go.”