On May 6, Angela Lee will take on Mei Yamaguchi to become ONE Championship's first ever female champion. For Yamaguchi, the chance to become the de facto queen of Asia's MMA scene has been a long time coming. A nine-year veteran of the sport, Yamaguchi's 24-fight career has taken her through some of WMMA's finest, including a recent grand prix tournament win last year wherein she defeated two women in one night.
Angela Lee, on the other hand, has just five fights to her name. So how the heck did this MMA prospect go from pro debut to this in the span of less than a year?
The 19-year-old, half-Korean, half Singaporean, Canadian-born, Hawaiian-raised athlete appeared on the scene in May 2015, and immediately made a splash when she submitted her opponent in under two minutes.
In September, she fought again under the ONE banner, going home with another quick submission victory. Two months later, she did it again. And again. And again.
By February 2016, she was 5-0 with five submissions. Exactly zero of those fights made it out of the second round. Her undefeated record makes her the first female fighter to win her first five fights with ONE Championship, Asia's largest MMA promotion. Fans gave her the nickname "Unstoppable," and so did ONE's matchmakers, who found themselves dumbfounded with the MMA prospect's meteoric rise.
With just about no-one left in the roster that Lee hadn't made look like an amateur, there didn't seem to be any other option than to give her a title shot.
So how did this happen? Where did Angela "Unstoppable" Lee come from, and what has made her such a phenom in the sport?
The teenage fighter currently trains at Evolve MMA in Singapore, and holds a black belt in taekwondo and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (via MMA Weekly).
Lee's entire family are no strangers to the world of martial arts, either. Her parents both hold multiple black belts, while her brother is a rising MMA star himself.
Both started off training with their parents, and the siblings often spar with one another, even though Lee insists it doesn't cause any rivalry between the two.
Lee's first four fights all took place within an eight-month period, and to date her longest was against Ukraine's Lena Tkhorevska. "Longest" may be a bit misleading, though, as it only took eight minutes and 26 seconds for a rear naked choke to give Lee another "W" on her record.
Her last fight was against American flyweight Rebecca Heintzman, in which Lee dominated the fight en route to a neck crank victory early in the second round.
Outside of the ring and her training, Lee is still just a typical teenager. When asked about her hobbies, she said:
Although relatively new to the MMA scene, Lee has big plans for her future as well as what role she plans on playing in the grand scheme of the sport:
"In five years, I want to make leaps and bounds of progress for Women’s MMA especially in Asia. I have really big aspirations for myself and plan on breaking a lot of records. I want to be the youngest MMA World Champion, the first Women’s MMA Champion from Hawaii, the first Women’s MMA Champion in ONE, and the first Singaporean World Champion in ONE. My younger brother Christian will be fighting soon as well and we plan on being the first brother – sister world champions."
That's a pretty lofty goal, but she's off to a flying start. Lee will attempt to make one more huge step toward it in May, when she fights for ONE Championship's first women's title against Mei Yamaguchi.
ONE Championship 41 will take place on May 6 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and will be broadcast live online.