Throughout her career, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee has responded well to pressure. She came up as a highly-touted prospect and won her first nine professional mixed martial arts matches before absorbing her first defeat in March at the hands of ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan via fifth-round TKO.
A rematch with Xiong Jing Nan is already set for October when ONE Championship heads back to Tokyo, with Lee’s atomweight title on the line. Though she still has to prove herself in the strawweight division, Lee will compete at ONE: MASTERS OF DESTINY on 12 July at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur against Michelle Nicolini.
Here are four reasons why Lee will win this matchup.
At one point, Lee was almost exclusively a grappler. However, over the past two years, her mixed martial arts game evolved. Lee was outstriking Xiong through the first four rounds before she took control on the ground. Against an opponent like Nicolini, whose primary skills are grappling, Lee should have an advantage during stand-up exchanges.
Nicolini is one of the best female grapplers in the world. She is one of the few opponents who may be a match for Lee on the mat. Despite that, Lee is good enough off her back to remain dangerous and can survive any takedowns. This is an aspect of the match where Nicolini has a significant advantage.
It may appear as though Lee has only had two more professional mixed martial arts bouts than Nicolini, but it’s not the quantity that matters but the quality. Lee has been up against the likes of Xiong, Mei Yamaguchi (twice) and Istela Nunes. For the most part, those athletes are tougher than the ones Nicolini has faced in her career.
Lee knows how to perform under the bright lights, but how will Nicolini handle the spotlight? In a big match, I’ll take Lee until proven otherwise.
The loss to Xiong could have been devastating to Lee. When a dominant athlete experiences their first loss, especially when it comes via TKO, it gives them a sense of urgency to seek redemption. Not only will Lee give it another go at strawweight, but she also has her rematch set with Xiong.
Knowing that her long-term mixed martial arts future lies in the strawweight division, Lee is determined than ever in chasing greatness. That will make it tough for Nicolini to stop the “Unstoppable.”