Vancouver-born MMA star Angela (Unstoppable) Lee fights for a championship belt, her legacy and, no doubt, a healthy paycheque.
But don’t forget the 20-year-old’s “food shrine.”
The One Championship atomweight title-holder says it has become a tradition. She and younger brother Christian, an 18-year-old who also fights for the Asian-based MMA promotion, stock up on treats ahead of fights.
“When you’re fighting and dieting, you have all these cravings,” she said. “I just like to buy it and then save it for later â€” and then that’s kind of my reward after the fight, my reward to myself.”
A social media shot of their food shrine shows some two dozen items, ranging from Skittles, Nutter Butter cookies and Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch to assorted packages of nuts, neatly displayed.
Lee (6-0-0) will have to wait until Saturday to chow down, hopefully celebrating the first defence of her 115-pound title â€” she normally walks around at 125 pounds â€” against Taiwan’s Jenny Huang (5-0-0) in the main event of “One: Warrior Kingdom” at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
The five-foot-four Lee, who divides her time between her family home in Hawaii and training base in Singapore, was just 19 when she won a unanimous decision over Mei Yamaguchi to became One Championship’s inaugural atomweight champion last May.
The Japanese veteran, who has never been finished in 26 fights, was a tough out as advertised. Lee took her down repeatedly, attempting a string of submissions but could not nail one down.
And in the third round, Yamaguchi floored her with a shot to the chin. Lee survived, however, and regained control of the fight.
“I still get emotional when I watch clips from that,” she said of the Singapore showdown. “Even through I didn’t get the finish, having the fight go the full five-minute rounds, I learned so much. I gained a tremendous amount of experience from that fight.”
Since winning the title, Lee has travelled the world for One Championship and spent time with her family.
“It’s been a great time off but I’m very anxious to get back in the cage,” she said.
She did find time to visit a tattoo parlour to celebrate her championship win. Inked on her wrist are the time and date that she won the title.
“Happiest moment of my life so I thought I might as well have that moment on me forever,” said Lee.
A confident Lee says her training camp for Huang “couldn’t have gone any better,” she said.
Both are accomplished grapplers with exotic submission wins on their resume. In 2015, Lee dispatched Filipino fighter Natalie Gonzales Hills via a rare twister submission (a combination body and neck crank) while Huang forced April Osenio to tap out to a gogoplata (a choke using the shin) last time out.
Martial arts runs in the family for the Lees, who are based out of Mililani on the island of Oahu. Father Ken and mother Jewelz are decorated martial artists who teach at their United MMA gym in Waipahu where Angela and Christian are also instructors.
Angela’s younger sister Victoria and brother Adrian also train in martial arts.
Ken was born in Singapore and Jewelz in South Korea. She moved to Hawaii at a young age while he came to Canada at the age of four. They met in Hawaii when Ken went there for high school, moving to Canada after graduation and eventually marrying.
Angela lived in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada until she was seven, when the family moved to Hawaii.
Lee is not the only One Championship with Canadian ties. Brazilian-born bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes makes his home in Vancouver.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press