The first time they met in May 2016, ONE Championship superstars Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi turned in a rousing Bout of the Year performance, with the former coming away with the inaugural ONE Women's Atomweight World Championship.
Lee, the youngest-ever MMA world champion (and possibly highest paid teenager), would then defend her title twice in 2017. She was scheduled to give Yamaguchi another shot at the belt in November, if not for her (Lee) suffering injuries from a car accident. Their highly touted rematch was rescheduled to Friday, May 18, at ONE: Unstoppable Dreams in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, where both the "Unstoppable" champ—undefeated at 8-0—and the grizzled veteran aren't keen on extending the fight to the full five rounds.
FHM recently caught up with Lee during the event's presscon in Singapore, and she was gracious enough to give the lowdown on how important it is for her to fight in her homeland, alongside a family member, and against a familiar foe.
After ONE: Unstoppable Dreams, we may be seeing two champions from Singapore. How do you think this will impact the MMA scene in the country?
Well I hope the country goes nuts for it, you know, because we're making history. This is really something that's never been done before, women's MMA being fairly new in the last few years, having the first brother and sister world champion in mixed martial arts, so that's what my brother and I are going to do on Friday—make history.
A women's title fight headlining a testosterone-filled card. What does it say about ONE Championship giving equal opportunity to its talents?
That's why I love fighting for One Championship, I love being a part of this organization, because you can really see that it doesn't matter if you're a girl or a guy. If you're a talented fighter and you've got skills, they're going to showcase that to the world. I'm very proud to be part of an organization like that.
What has been the hardest part of your road to recovery and regaining your previous form?
The beginning, just trying to get myself out of the negative mentality. I just needed time, it does wonders, and I didn't rush the process. I feel like now I'm so much stronger from that experience, and so I'm grateful for having gone through that.
Do you feel double the burden of having your brother Christian (vs featherweight champ Martin Nguyen) in the same card, also fighting for a title no less?
Oh, that's not a burden at all, that's a blessing. You know we're really, really happy for this opportunity, very grateful, and it's really like a fairytale for us, and we're going to give ONE: Unstoppable Dreams a fairytale ending.
You first go-around with Mei was hailed Bout of the Year in 2016. Do you think both of you can top that effort?
Definitely! This fight, it is going to be one for the books. I think that fight, it was Bout of the Year for a reason, and I think that we both showed a lot of heart, grit, and determination. We've won a lot of respect from that fight. But this time around, it's going to be completely different, I mean not in terms of we're both going to bring the best that we can do and the rest to the table, but we've made improvements since then. I know she has, I've definitely have, and you guys are just going to see that.
ONE: Unstoppable Dreams will be available for free streaming through the ONE Super App