In a shocking turn of events, Angela Lee, one of ONE Championship’s top stars, has decided to retire from mixed martial arts (MMA). Making the announcement during the ONE Fight Night 14 broadcast in Singapore, Lee declared that she would be vacating her ONE women’s 115-pound MMA title. This news had a significant impact on the main event of the evening, as Stamp Fairtex’s fight against Seo Hee Ham was initially scheduled to be for the interim title. However, with Lee’s retirement, the fight became a showdown for the undisputed belt.
Stamp Fairtex Emerges Victorious, Becomes a Triple Champion
Stamp Fairtex, the Thai superstar known for her prowess in multiple combat sports, rose to the occasion and stopped Seo Hee Ham via TKO in the third round. Fairtex strategically used devastating body shots, resulting in a stoppage at 1:04 of the round. With this victory, she not only secured the ONE women’s 115-pound title but also solidified her status as a champion in MMA, kickboxing, and Muay Thai.
The Untold Tragedy and Determination Behind Angela Lee’s Retirement
While Angela Lee’s retirement surprised many, her decision was motivated by personal tragedy. In September of last year, Lee’s younger sister, Victoria, tragically took her own life. Victoria, who competed in MMA for ONE Championship as well, faced her own battles with mental health. Lee revealed to ESPN’s Daniel Cormier that she herself had attempted suicide in 2017. These heart-wrenching experiences led her to prioritize her mental well-being over her MMA career.
“I don’t have the heart to step in there again,” Lee expressed to ESPN. “If you follow your heart, it will always lead you in the right direction. And that’s why I know I’m making the right decision.”
Angela Lee’s retirement marks the end of a decorated career in ONE Championship. Hailing from Hawaii and with roots in Canada, Singapore, China, and Korea, Lee made history in 2016 when she captured the ONE women’s 115-pound title at the tender age of 19. This remarkable feat earned her the distinction of being the youngest champion in the history of major MMA promotions. Over the years, Lee successfully defended her title five times, including a recent submission victory over Stamp Fairtex in March 2022.
Reflecting on her accomplishments, Lee stated, “I’m really proud of everything that I’ve done, and I don’t have any regrets. It’s been a really great career, so I can just look back on it and smile and just look forward to the future.”
Lee’s future may not involve active competition, but she has dedicated herself to a cause close to her heart. In honor of her sister Victoria, she has established a non-profit organization called FightStory. The primary goal of this charity is to provide a platform for individuals to share their personal stories surrounding mental health. Through FightStory, Lee aims to tackle the stigma associated with mental health issues and promote understanding and empathy within the combat sports community and beyond.
Christian Lee: The Lee Family’s Future in MMA
Angela Lee’s brother, Christian Lee, has also made a name for himself in the world of MMA. As the reigning ONE lightweight and welterweight champion, Christian is considered one of the best young fighters in the sport. However, he has yet to make a public announcement regarding his own future in MMA. The Lee family’s deep connection to the fight game spans generations, with their father serving as their coach. Angela Lee’s retirement undoubtedly impacts Christian’s decisions moving forward.
Overall, Angela Lee’s retirement from MMA leaves a void in the growing sport. Her incredible achievements and personal struggles have created a lasting legacy that transcends the cage. By shedding light on the importance of mental health, Lee’s story serves as a catalyst for change and understanding within the combat sports community. Her courage to prioritize her well-being and advocacy for others through the FightStory project ensures that her impact will continue to be felt for years to come.