“Unstoppable” Angela Lee is still the atomweight queen after another five-round war with Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi.
As much as it took to battle through all 25 minutes, it was actually the walk to the cage that had the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion in tears as she came back to ONE Championship following a car crash last November that could have ended her career.
Instead, Lee refused to give up, and she made a triumphant return at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS on Friday, 18 May, with a supportive hometown crowd in the Singapore Indoor Stadium that could not wait to greet her.
The Singaporean hero never skipped a beat in her time away from the ONE cage.
Lee quickly took the centre of the cage before unleashing a rapid-fire striking attack to open the bout. She was aggressive during those opening moments, but had to be careful as Yamaguchi was still ultra dangerous, especially with her dynamite right hand that landed flush several times.
Late in the first round, Lee countered with a strong clinch game against the cage, where she unloaded several clubbing elbows before the bell sounded.
After a back-and-forth battle in the first five minutes, “Unstoppable” changed up her strategy by taking Yamaguchi to the ground almost immediately in the second round.
Lee maintained her ground control until she set up a beautiful armbar attempt, which looked like it might finish Yamaguchi. But the Japanese veteran was not going to give up that easily.
Yamaguchi remained patient while locked up in the submission until she finally wriggled free. She then fired off a few punches of her own on the ground before the round ended.
Lee’s aggression was a major factor in her ability to control the pace, as she constantly stalked her rival across the cage. While Yamaguchi was able to return fire with a couple of stinging rights, she just could not seem to connect with enough power to do damage.
The atomweight queen opted for a body-lock takedown late in the third, and then quickly transitioned to take the back. For a moment, it appeared that Lee might lock up a rear-naked choke, but time ran out before she could secure the submission.
She remained in control for the majority of the fourth round, keeping the Japanese athlete at the end of her punches and kicks. Yamaguchi was finally able to turn the tables with about a minute to go when she caught a low kick and planted the champion on the ground.
Time ran out on her, but Yamaguchi was not deterred, as she came storming out of the gate as the fifth and final round got underway.
Almost immediately, “V.V.” came after Lee with a series of left hands. She finished up the combination with a well-timed head kick, and then landed a massive takedown.
Yamaguchi quickly followed up in an attempt to do more damage, but Lee was crafty with her defence, as she tied up the veteran Japanese competitor while controlling her base from the bottom.
Lee was finally able to scramble her way back to the feet, and wild exchanges ensued in the final seconds of what turned out to be another five-round classic between the two superstars.
Much like the first bout in May 2016, the judges had a tough job to do. Ultimately, they returned a decision in favour of Lee, who remains undefeated with a perfect 9-0 record following her third straight defence of her ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.