Cape Town - On Friday night, Singapore will play host to a historic night of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) when Singapore’s “Unstoppable” Angela Lee (5-0) and Japan’s Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi (15-8-1) will go head-to-head in a battle for the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.
According to Jim Edwards from MMALatestNews.com, MMA has surged in popularity in Asia in recent times, due largely to ONE Championship’s extensive work cultivating the sport in the region. ONE is Asia’s largest sports media property with a potential broadcast to over a billion homes in more than 75 countries worldwide.
Lee and Yamaguchi are set to step inside the ONE Championship cage on May 6, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore at ONE's event called 'Ascent to Power.'
Angela Lee is widely considered to be one of the most promising young combat sports athletes in the world and believes that her fight next month with Yamaguchi could be her defining moment.
“This fight is going to be the most important of my life,” said Lee, who made her professional MMA debut last year. “I truly believe that since I started my martial arts journey, it’s been my destiny to become a world champion. All my hard work and all my training is going to pay off.”
The 19-year-old Lee comes from a fighting family. Her parents are both martial arts instructors and highly decorated martial artists. Angela’s father Ken Lee is a Pankration, Taekwondo and Jiu-Jitsu black belt and her mother, Jewelz Lee, is a Taekwondo black belt instructor and a 2-time Canadian National Silver Medallist.
Her younger brother Christian is also a martial artist, competing under ONE Championship’s featherweight division and is unbeaten in two fights so far.
On the other side of the spectrum sits Mei Yamaguchi, who grew up and discovered martial arts in Los Angeles, but moved to Japan to teach Taekwondo.
Yamaguchi has more experience than Lee, as well as being 14 years Lee’s senior. Like Lee, Yamaguchi understands the significance of this bout and how it helps women with aspirations in combat sports, especially in her home country where she teaches martial arts to children.
“I know there are a lot of girls in Japan who do Karate and Judo. I know a lot compete in that. If they see another girl in professional sports, and see that you’re able to make a living with it, you can inspire a lot of fans,” said Yamaguchi, who began her professional MMA career nearly 10 years ago.
“In the United States, MMA is really big. I know that Asian women are strong, and if they start to learn MMA, I know [the sport] is going to be big! I know a lot of good [female] athletes who can fight in MMA. This is really big. There are really good women fighters in Japan but I can show that to the world by winning this title.”
Yamaguchi grew up admiring Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, and her parents enrolled her at a martial arts academy at age six. She fell in love with Karate at an early age and now, at 33, Yamaguchi finds herself a two-division world champion in MMA.
Both Lee and Yamaguchi are looking to add the ONE Championship belt to their collection but of course, only one of them will be able to take home the prize on May 6th:
“It’s time to make history,” said Lee. “I think that crowning the first ever women’s champion is going to really help women’s MMA take off. It’s started in North America, but once we have a women’s champion here in Asia, it’s just going to skyrocket.”
The Lee-Yamaguchi bout will be the main event for ONE: Ascent to Power this Friday which you can watch LIVE at http://www.onefc.com/livestream