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Angela Lee

‘There will be fireworks,’ says Angela Lee ahead of One Championship title clash against China’s Xiong ‘The Panda’ Jingnan

The two face-off in Singapore as Lee looks to step up to become a two-weight champion and seal an 11th straight win

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 October, 2018, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 October, 2018, 9:28pm

Angela “Unstoppable” Lee is coming back bigger and badder than ever as she steps up to face One Championship’s world strawweight champion Xiong “The Panda” Jingnan on the Heart of a Lion card in Singapore on November 9.

That’s the promise from Asia’s mixed martial arts queen before the biggest test of her career.

“This is about my legacy – I want to be known as one of the baddest female fighters of this era,” Lee said. “I’m going to shock the world and become the world’s first two division female champion. This is my time and nothing is going to get in my way.”

The Lee-Xiong super bout has been looming for a while now as the 22-year-old Hawaii-based One world atomweight champ has grown in stature across her 9-0 run in the sport.

Strawweight – which One sets between 52.3 kilograms and 56.7kg – means less hassle with weight cut and a more comfortable fit for Lee. She said as she had grown in size and power.

“I feel a lot strong and healthier,” Lee said. “I think this fight is going to allow me to use all my tools and have that strength that I usually have. The fans are going to see a big difference. They are going to see the best version of me.”

The test that awaits Lee in the shape of the 30-year-old Xiong (15-1) is an intriguing one.

Xiong, like Lee, has pretty much bullied everyone she has faced, her one loss coming back in 2015.

The Beijing-born fighter has made no secret of her ambitions to rule Asian MMA – and her desire to face up to the best the region has to offer, and to dispense with them.

Now comes the time to fight the young woman who has been the poster girl for One’s expansion across the region.

“I’m proud to be the first Chinese world MMA champion and I have experienced a lot on my way to the title,” Xiong said. “Angela has an excellent record but I don’t feel much pressure because I have confidence in myself. My dream is to face the best athletes, and to learn from good opponents. I will show the audience everything I have got and they will remember the name Xiong Jingnan.”

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Xiong will no doubt be hitting the tapes of Lee’s two title fights against the veteran Japanese warrior Mei Yamaguchi (17-11-1), when the young star was pushed all the way to decisions.

Lee at times in both bouts was troubled by Yamaguchi’s tenacity, and her walk-forward style. Xiong – in some way cut from that same cloth – would have taken note.

The Chinese fighter will be looking to play to her considerable strengths – that is, to stand and trade blows. Just one of Xiong’s wins have come by submission – via arm bar after 50 seconds in her pro debut – while Lee brings all sorts of tricks into play should the fight hit the deck. So just how this all plays out is a mystery, deepened by the fact Lee has in recent fights spent increasing amounts of time going toe-to-toe.

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“Xiong is heavy hitting and I’m sure she’s working hard to round off the rest of her game,” said Lee. “Our styles are a great match for each other. We’re both very aggressive and for sure there are going to be fireworks in the Singapore Indoor Stadium.”

Last time out, in that second title bout against Yamaguchi in Singapore on May 18, Lee was returning from a break of 12 months, enforced after she’d flipped her car early morning and miraculously walked away with only bruising. The past year has also seen Lee married – to fellow fighter Bruno Pucci – and round out her credentials with a BJJ black belt.

“For sure there’s going to be fireworks,” Lee said. “It’s been an amazing year so far and I’m looking forward to ending the year with a bang.”

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The Heart of the Lion card also features One world bantamweight champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes (22-3) putting his belt on the line against interim title holder Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (19-5).

It’s a title rematch for the pair after they met back in 2016, with the Brazilian overpowering the Philippine fighter with a kimura lock in the first.

Both fighters are coming into the title bout off wins over Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen (11-3), as the Aussie (then a two-belt champ) dabbled with the bantamweights.

The 38-year-old Bibiano has 10 title defences to his credit but was in big trouble before taking a split decision over Nguyen, while 30-year-old Belingon was never in trouble on his way to a comprehensive and unanimous nod.

“I know he is a very good opponent, a very good striker,” Bibiano said. “But I am going to take this fight everywhere, standing up, on the ground, against the cage. Everything he throws at me, I will take.”