After a pair of losses at strawweight, Angela Lee returned to defend her atomweight title in the ONE: Century Part I main event.
Rarely does a champion find herself defending a title after two consecutive losses. Yet that was the case with the ‘Unstoppable’ Angela Lee at ONE: Century Part I on Saturday (or Sunday, local time). Lee, very much ONE’s biggest star during its growth period, had moved up to strawweight to challenge Xiong Jing Nan, with dreams of winning a second title.
Instead she came up short, and lost again in her next fight, also at strawweight, against Michelle Nicolini.
And so at ONE: Century, a massive event for the promotion, Lee would welcome Xiong Jing Nan to atomweight, and put her own title up for grabs. The bout topped the Tokyo card.
Xiong fired her right hand early, proving she retained her power even at the lower weight class. Lee, however, refused to back down, standing with her, at least initially. ‘Unstoppable’ Lee would press the strawweight champ against the cage, putting pressure on her opponent. At least until the Chinese fighter was able to push her off. Back in the middle, Xiong connected, then fired a wild overhand punch that was clearly planned to be a knockout blow. Lee, however, wasn’t there for it to hit. Xiong’s right hand did land later however. A two-punch combo followed.
They’d clinch, then break with just under a minute remaining. Xiong was showing some damage, and Lee fired an uppercut. Lee, however, ate another right hand, and that punch, through the opening round, was the biggest factor in the fight.
The second round had Xiong landing to the body. Lee closed the distance, pressing her foe against the cage. She was looking for the takedown, but couldn’t find it. Instead they moved back to center, where Xiong Jing Nan continued to work the body. Xiong would then land a punch to the temple, but Lee could grab a leg and dump her opponent on her back. That allowed Lee to move to top control. She worked for submissions, and after moving to side control, landed a couple of knees to the head of Xiong to finish the round.
Angela Lee opened the third round dropping for a single leg attempt, but Xiong Jing Nan escaped. Having found success to finish the second, there was little surprise at Lee going back to that particular well. Every exchange seemed to end in a takedown attempt, and Lee would finally get Xiong down with a throw. Trapping the head of the ‘Punching Panda,’ Lee peppered her with punches. Xiong had a hard time defending, her arm trapped. Instead she tried to scramble, but Lee got on her back. She hunted for submissions, mixing in ground n’ pound. Body shots. Head shots. Xiong Jing Nan was in a bad spot, and nearly gave up a rear-naked choke at the end of the frame.
The third was a dominant round for Angela Lee. The fourth had Xiong focusing on movement, no doubt wary of being taken down again. Xiong then landed a crisp straight right. Moments later, Xiong would land again, this time dropping Lee! The Chinese fighter moved in with a kick that was dangerously close to illegal, but Lee recovered enough to move out of harm’s way. Lee would then close distance with a combo, driving Xiong into the cage. Xiong turned her around but couldn’t do much with the position. Lee would land a right; Xiong would answer back. The round would close out with the pair trading, Lee pressing the action.
The fifth round opened with Lee eating a left. Moments later, Xiong Jing Nan would go on the attack, but Lee tied her up by the fence. Lee would mix in a knee or two, but struggled to get the fight down. Xiong broke free. She got her hands going, but also boasted a massive hematoma that had grown throughout the fight, and was approaching Mark Hominick levels. The pair then went down, Xiong unleashing with ground strikes. But Lee broke free, and suplexed Xiong Jing Nan! That would allow her to transition to the back, getting her hooks in. She rode the back, landing punches, then sunk in a rear naked choke! With seconds remaining, Lee had the win!
Official Result: Angela Lee def. Xiong Jing Nan by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 5, 4:48