ONE atomweight champion Angela Lee has been out of action since October 2019, but the time off has turned out to be fortuitous.
While the pandemic was to blame initially, this past April, Lee, alongside fellow fighter and husband Bruno Pucci, welcomed daughter Ava to the world. Now, just months removed from that happy event, the 24-year old is preparing to get back in fight shape. With a little added motivation.
Speaking to Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview, Lee explained that there is “greater motivation to step back into the cage, because I have so much more to fight for.”
Of course, her return will be a fight in and of itself. “In terms of going back to my normal routine, I’m still working on it,” Lee admitted. The new mom noted that “trying to schedule things with a baby now, I find myself running late for everything.”
Life now includes those little obstacles, like how much time it takes to get her daughter ready, get her bags packed, get her in her car seat, etc. “I’m still getting used to it. Luckily I have tons of help with my husband, with my family here, and I’m sure that in no time, things are going to get much better. She’s in a great routine now, we’re getting used to it, so hopefully things just get easier.”
Lee’s current waystation in life is reminiscent of Michelle Waterson, whose documentary Fight Mom proved rather successful. As she embraces motherhood herself, Lee is open to a similar project with ONE Championship.
“Honestly I would love that. I watched Michelle’s documentary, Fight Mom, and I just thought it was so cool. I would really love to do something like that with ONE, because this time right now is so precious.” From every day things, to getting ready for a fight, and Lee with daughter Ava, are moments she would love to see captured on film. And with no fight currently on the horizon, the timing may be perfect.
Of course, other Lee family members have been competing. Brother Christian, the promotion’s lightweight champ, defended his title in April. Younger sister Victoria, at just 16, became the third Lee sibling to compete for ONE, winning her promotional debut back in February.
“She’s so mature for her age. Ever since she was little, she’s always been like a wise old soul. That’s definitely one of the pros she had going for her, making her pro debut at such a young age,” Angela Lee said of her sister.
“Were were nervous just because there was so much added pressure, not just from her making her debut at 16, but from Christian and I fighting as well. But she handled it like a champ,” said Lee, who added that she is “so proud of the performance [Victoria] put on.”
While the Lee siblings — Christian and Angela — have fought on the same card, it’s “kind of impossible” for her father to coach them back-to-back as it is. Which means having all three at one event might be a stretch. However, the atomweight champ would love to share a card with her younger sister at some point.
As for when Angela Lee herself might return, “ideally the goal is to get back into shape and into fight shape is the end of the year.” November has been floated in the media in the past, but Lee will need to wait for the atomweight grand prix to play out. “I’m hoping to fight at the end of the year, or possibly early next year.”
ONE Championship’s atomweight grand prix was expected to kick off with an all-female event entitled Empower in May, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lee is excited to watch the event unfold, but was mum on who she thought would win it all and earn a title shot.
“I think just don’t count anyone out, really. The female fighters that they have in this tournament, they’re dangerous in their own right,” Lee observed. The fun thing about a tournament is how the fighters match up stylistically, she added. “Also, you don’t know how they’ve been preparing for this fight, given the COVID situation. Anything can happen, I don’t want to throw any names out about favorites or anything, because I think anything can happen, especially in a tournament.”
When it comes to ONE Championship’s atomweight tournament, the belt is not on the line in the grand prix itself — unlike competitor Bellator, who have featured their champions in their recent grand prix tournaments. That means Lee has missed out on an opportunity to win a grand prix belt, something brother Christian did when he stepped into the lightweight grand prix as an injury replacement in 2019.
Angela is open to stepping up on short notice herself should the opportunity arise. “Who knows though, what could happen. That’s why I want to get back in shape as fast as I can, and just stay ready. I would love to hop into the grand prix myself if there was someone who dropped out. Who knows, we’ll see.”