Angela Lee confident of beating Nunes
ONE atomweight world champion also doesn't rule out a fight with home-grown MMA exponent May Ooi
After just two months, ONE atomweight world champion Angela Lee will return to the octagon to defend her title against Brazilian contender Istela Nunes tonight.
Lee, who showcased her striking superiority when she defeated Taiwan's Jenny Huang in Thailand on March 11, will be fighting in the ONE Championship: Dynasty of Heroes event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, with 12,000 fans expected to fill the venue.
At McGettigan's in Clarke Quay yesterday the 20-year-old, who was born in Canada but has a Singaporean father, said she was extremely confident going into the bout with two-time Muay Thai world champion Nunes.
Said Lee: "With each fight, it is going to get tougher and tougher and that it is what I expect being the champion.
"But I train very hard and I know that I'm in another class above these girls, so I'm not worried about tomorrow night."
Lee, whose capture of the ONE atomweight world title in May last year made her the youngest mixed martial arts (MMA) world champion, will have the backing of another local sporting star tonight.
Olympic champion swimmer Joseph Schooling has flown in from the University of Texas to accompany Lee to the ring.
"I am super excited about the fight tonight," said Schooling.
I train very hard and I know that I’m in another class above these girls, so I’m not worried about tomorrow night.ONE atomweight world champion Angela Lee
"I have never been to a live fight and we're about to see Angela whoop some a**."
With Lee confident of another successful title defence, The New Paper suggested home-grown MMA exponent and former Olympic swimmer May Ooi as a possible challenger in the future.
While she is yet to appear on a ONE event, 40-year-old Ooi has four pro MMA fights under her belt having most recently competed in the World Series of Fighting-Global Championship events in Japan and the Philippines last year.
Lee admitted she hasn't heard of Ooi before, but added she was open to the possibility of a showdown.
"I'm not really sure who (May) is, but my toughest step is right in front of me tomorrow night," said Lee.
"I don't think that it will be smart to overlook Istela and look too far into the future.
"(But) sure, why not? I mean, (a fight) is going to help build the sport, especially here in Singapore."
Rich Franklin, vice-president of ONE Championship, also expressed an interest in a clash between Lee and Ooi.
"When you talk about the set-up of that and somebody who has accomplished something, like a medallist in the SEA Games, absolutely," said the 42-year-old former UFC middleweight champion.
"That fight is going to draw a ton of attention."
The prospect of a fight with Lee is a mouth-watering one for Ooi.
"I am definitely up for the challenge and it is an honour to fight Angela," said Ooi, who co-owns the Brazilian Cultural Centre Singapore, a Capoeira school here.
"She is a good fighter and she is very skilled. It will do good for the sport.
"However, I will do this only if the terms are fair and we are playing on level ground where all the rules are strictly adhered to.
"Singaporeans and people all over Asia are going to eat this up. It's a great platform to empower women and youth through sports.
"So, am I up for it? Definitely"