Earlier in the year, ONE Championship unveiled their Athlete Rankings, and since then, much talk has ensued about potential showdowns between ONE World Champions and top-five contenders.
ONE World Champions Sam-A Gaiyanghadao and compatriot Nong-O Gaiyanghadao have already reacted to their respective division rankings, and now ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee reveals her thoughts on the top five women who occupy the ONE women’s atomweight division.
#1-Ranked Contender Denice Zamboanga
Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga stormed the ONE Circle with a debut win over Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS in December 2019.
It was Zamboanga’s win over Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE in February, however, that caught the attention of Lee.
“She is a really good, all-around fighter. [She is] a really good mixed martial artist. I think she mixes it up in the trenches pretty well, and she can pretty much play anywhere,” Lee said.
“Judging her last fight with Mei, it was a really smart game plan that her team came up with, and she was able to execute, so I thought that was smart.
“She looks like a tough girl, and one of those new breed of mixed martial arts fighters where she can mix it up and pretty much feel comfortable in any range.”
Fans could very well see these two atomweights go head-to-head sometime this year. Immediately after Zamboanga’s last bout, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong gifted “The Menace Fairtex” with a shot at Lee’s World Title.
#2-Ranked Contender Meng Bo
At ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS in November 2019, Meng Bo flabbergasted fans with a debut knockout win over Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin.
It only took the Chinese phenom a single round to finish her foe.
Although Lee was impressed with the knockout finish, it was Meng’s ground game that won over “Unstoppable.”
“I only saw one of her fights because she only had one fight in ONE Championship, but it was a nice knockout,” Lee said. “I think she did a pull-three, like a pull into a hook. I thought it was impressive.”
#3-Ranked Contender Lin Heqin
If Meng could threaten Lee on the feet, then her compatriot “MMA Sister” Lin Heqin is the athlete who may be able to test “Unstoppable” on the ground.
In March 2019, Lin finished Jomary “The Zamboanginian Fighter” Torres at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar with a first-round triangle choke.
However, despite the strong start for “MMA Sister,” the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion was amazed that Lin’s name was pinned to the rankings.
“I was actually surprised to hear those two fighters (Meng and Lin) were on the top-five list for atomweight contenders,” Lee said. “I just thought a few other fighters should be up there because they have had some more bouts and a longer history in ONE. But yeah, you never know!”
#4-Ranked Contender Mei Yamaguchi
Out of all the contenders on this list, Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi is the most experienced. Since 2016, she’s had 10 bouts in the ONE Circle, walking away as the winner in six of them.
“I think, definitely, Mei deserves to be on the top-five list,” Lee said. “She is just a veteran of the sport, she has been doing this for a long time, and she has fought for a World Title and has stayed extremely relevant.
“She has had a lot of fights and yeah, I think she is totally well-deserving of being in the top five.”
Who better than Lee to confirm the Japanese legend’s status as a top-five atomweight? The two women shared the Circle twice, and although “Unstoppable” got the nod in both instances, neither win came easily.
#5-Ranked Contender Gina Iniong
Gina “Conviction” Iniong is another atomweight with a storied career in the ONE Circle. The Team Lakay representative has defeated the likes of Jihin, Jenny “Lady GoGo” Huang, and Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol.
“Unstoppable,” who shares common rivals with Iniong, believes that the woman from the Philippines has rightfully earned her spot in the rankings.
“I also feel like Gina deserves to be in the top five. I think she has had quite a bit of fights in ONE,” Lee said.
“[She has had] some ups and downs, but she has stayed relevant, and based on who she has fought most recently, I think it definitely qualifies her for being in the top five.”
Download the ONE Super App to catch all the action live and for free.
Read More From ONE Championship: