Come May 26, 2017 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the reigning ONE Championship Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, is likely to be facing her toughest opponent yet in her young but stellar MMA career. And in case you are unaware of the danger that lurks in this roadblock for Lee, let us keep you abreast of what the next contender in line is really made of.
Hailing from Curitiba, Brazil, Istela Nunes de Souza is a 24 years old who’s on a fight path of destruction while breaking into the MMA scene in Asia. She is a long, rangy and well-conditioned specimen of an athlete, whose skills lean heavily on her crisp, overwhelming and technically-sound striking abilities. She was a two-time Muay Thai World Champion and is undefeated since her transition into MMA (6-0-1 N.C.); a career pedigree that sounds all too familiar like that of reigning UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk… hmm… but let’s stop right there and not get ahead of ourselves in that comparison! Anyway, don’t let that sweet innocent face fool you. Here’s a video of Nunes fighting in Brazil about a year ago at FLC 2, where she scored a highlight reel worthy, 3-kick-combination K.O. in the third round, giving you a glimpse of the firepower that she brings in the cage.
(Go to 17:37 mark for the insane combination K.O.)
Apart from her striking prowess, Istela Nunes have proved that she is not simply a one-dimensional fighter. Rightfully so, given that she lives and trains out of Brazil, where seemingly every fighter is well versed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! In her debut fight in ONE Championship against Mei Yamaguchi back in August 2016, Nunes showed she had the ground skills to defend and hang with a superior grappler in Yamaguchi. Here are the match statistics:
FightGeek’s Pre-Fight Analysis
While Angela Lee spotted sharp improvements in striking during her last bout against Jenny Huang, it is tough to imagine her applying a similar strategy and imposing that kind of dominance on her feet against Nunes, where reach is no longer an advantage. That, plus the fact that Nunes is probably the more polished striker, who like Lee, is also technically diverse, but may have better movement in creating angles to land her shots. So, unless Lee is out to make a statement in her striking game and is willing to stand and bang with the Brazilian, thus giving us fans the fireworks we all are hoping to see! It is very likely we will see the Champion take the fight to the ground where she is most dominant at.
As for Nunes, let’s hope she is well prepared to defend while remaining a threat against a grappling force, perhaps unlike anything she has ever faced before in her MMA career. As shown in the earlier video, Nunes’ conditioning was remarkable well into the third round when the fight tarries mostly on the feet. But a revelation in the Yamaguchi fight showed how drained she became by the end of the second round after the intense ground battle. This could be exactly what the Champion is looking to exploit to gain an edge, gradually chipping away Nunes’ power and speed. Not to mention this would be Nunes’ first potential five rounder against the battle-tested Lee, who has proven to be extremely durable in a drawn-out war when she won her title. Cardio, endurance and takedown defense could play the biggest factors for the challenger’s chances at winning the title.
Upon reviewing the data on both fighters, Angela Lee appears to have the slight statistical edge, thus making her the marginally favored fighter to win this battle. But as the saying goes, “anything can happen in a fight!”. This is a showdown of epic proportions we simply cannot wait to see! Give us your predictions now!