Interview: Teen Prodigy Angela Lee Talks Upcoming ONE Title Fight, Family, and Fame

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Angela Lee

At only 19-years old and just one year into her professional MMA career, Hawaii’s Angela Lee is on the verge of becoming a superstar in Asia. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt, who is 5-0 with five submission victories, will be taking on Mei Yamaguchi for the inaugural ONE Championship Women’s Atomweight title on Friday, May 6th in Singapore. Both Angela and her 17-year old brother Christian have been trained from a young age by their parents Ken and Jewelz, who both earned black belts in multiple disciplines, at the family’s United MMA Academy in Hawaii. The siblings also trainout of Evolve MMA, Asia’s top martial arts academy, alongside MMA and BJJ champions Ben Askren, Rafael Dos Anjos, Michelle Niccolini, and Leandro Issa. Angela was kind enough to take time out of her busy training camp to talk us about her upcoming fight.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You made your professional debut just one year ago. Did you ever imagine that you would have five pro fights and be main eventing a major event in Singapore’s premier sports venue? Has it all sunk in yet?

Angele Lee: Yes, the last year has definitely been a crazy ride for me! I had dreams of becoming an MMA World Champion since I was 16 years old and from the moment I got signed with ONE Championship, I knew that I would do whatever it takes to get me there. This is everything I’ve ever wanted; to fight in one of the best MMA organizations in the world, to have to opportunity to do what I love and shine on a global stage, break records and make history.

It definitely sinks in more and more each day as May 6 is approaching, I just wake up every single day full of gratitude because I am so thankful for this amazing life that I get to live.  

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Your opponent Mei Yamaguchi has 24 professional fights under her belt and has never been finished in a fight. What is the approach you and your team of coaches are using going into this fight?

Angela Lee: The gameplan is to do whatever it takes to get my hand raised and have that belt wrapped around my waist. It is always ideal for me to finish my opponents as quickly as possible. However, I am also more than prepared to go the full distance with Mei. We train for anything and everything so we’re constantly prepared to anything that happens come fight night.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You are 5-0 with five finishes all within the first two rounds. What are the adjustments you must make in your strength and conditioning and cardio training when you prepare for a 5-round fight?

Angela Lee: I have always been prepared to fight five 5 minute rounds because I’ve always had a championship fight mentality, so there hasn’t been that much adjustments.

Angela Lee - Hands Raised

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You and your family have spent a lot of time in Singapore over the past six months to prepare for you and your brother, Christian’s fights. How will you split up your training camp between your home gym, United MMA in Hawaii and Evolve MMA in Singapore?

Angela Lee: For my fight camp this time around, I have spent 5 weeks training alongside the World Champions at Evolve MMA in Singapore and finished up the last 3 weeks at United MMA in Hawaii working with my dad and my younger brother Christian.

Christian and Angela Lee
Christian and Angela Lee

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You and your brother have fought on the same ONE Championship card before. Do you enjoy going through the training camp with your brother and what is the fight day vibe like for you guys and your dad who is your coach?

Angela Lee: Christian and myself love going through fight camps together. We both feel like the whole process (training camp, dieting, fight week, and fight night) is easier and more fun when we’re going through it with each other. Fight day is always so exciting for us! It’s a really unique experience, probably very different than all of the other fighters.

We always have our entire family with us: Dad, Mom, little brother (Adrian), little sister (Victoria), and sometimes even our grandparents! It’s a really positive and good-feel kind of vibe.

For Christian and myself, we have a real special connection because we know exactly how the other person is feeling; the excitement, the nerves, the confidence, the pressure, the moments we live for, and the complete bliss we feel from being able to do what we love.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You have become a major star in Asia over the past year? How are you dealing with your new-found fame and the media obligations that come along with it?

Angela Lee: Honestly, all of the new attention is really cool but I still feel like the same 19 year old girl that I was 12 months ago when I was made my debut with ONE! I know a lot of people dislike the media/ promotional side of the job but I don’t mind it. I like being able to share my story and speak my mind.

Angela Lee - Pre-Fight

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You and your brother have been training and fighting non-stop over the past six months. Are there any plans for a vacation or break after May 6th?

Angela Lee: We’re young and we’re hungry to fight! Fighting is our passion. Our goal is to always stay as busy as possible but that decision isn’t up to us, it’s up to ONE Championship.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: What will be your victory meal after your fight?

Angela Lee: Bone In Ribeye Steak (Medium Rare), a Dozen Fresh Oysters, Baked Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Chocolate Molten Lava Cake w/ Ice Cream.

1 COMMENT

  1. Not to be a stickler, but as her first prof fight was on May 22, won’t her title fight on May 6 be her sixth pro fight in her first year as a pro? I wonder what the record is for most pro fights in a year in WMMA. Most pro victories?

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