Angela Lee has taken to Instagram to discuss another pivotal moment in her MMA career and give some insight into what was going on behind the scenes. She admits to having been in tears moments before stepping into the cage to rematch Mei Yamaguchi at ONE: ‘Unstoppable Dreams’.
The fight had already been postponed following a car crash which Lee recently admitted was actually a suicide attempt. She was competing in the main event of the show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and admits that,
“I was crying before I even stepped in the cage. This was the most emotional I’ve ever been before a fight.”
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She still managed to fight for 25 minutes. Lee won the fight by unanimous decision although the general consensus is that Yamaguchi was unfortunate not to get the nod.
Earlier in the evening her brother Christian Lee had come out second best against Martin Nguyen in a featherweight title fight. Fans were surprised when it was declared a split decision as the Australian had clearly got the better of the action.
Initially Lee thought she was just upset because her younger brother had lost,
“It was extremely hard to keep it together. For years I thought I was so emotional because I had just watched cage side as my little brother lost his shot at the world title right before it was my turn to go out and fight.”
Three years ago today, Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi delivered an absolute classic in their highly anticipated rematch for ONE atomweight gold! 👑 @angelaleemma @v_vmei #OTD #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/03d57p1YlR
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) May 18, 2021
It has taken Lee several years to come to terms with what was actually happening to her during what must have been a very traumatic period in her life. Given the inner turmoil she was dealing with her ability to fight for 25 minutes is even more impressive.
She realizes now that she was terrified. Despite this Lee was able to go toe to toe with a top ranked opponent for five rounds and emerge with a decision win,
“But only now, five years later, I realize the real truth behind those tears. I was terrified. I was scared I was going to crack under the pressure. It was my first fight back since my “car accident”. Just six months after my suicide attempt (which no-one knew about besides my husband), here I was, about to fight for my life and defend my world title on a global stage.”
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) May 29, 2018
The fight took place in May, 2018. It had initially been scheduled for the previous November but was postponed when Lee crashed her car in Hawaii, originally claiming to have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Earlier this year Lee revealed she had attempted to take her own life citing the pressure she was under and her struggles to make weight. Given her fragile state of mind she probably shouldn’t have been returning to competitive action just seven months later.
Lee admits to feeling ‘overwhelmed’ as she walked out into the Singapore Indoor Stadium ahead of her fight with Yamaguchi,
“Emotions overwhelmed me as I made my way into the circle. It was one of the scariest moments of my life and one of the toughest fights, mentally. My mind was already at war with myself even before the fight begun.”
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Earlier this year Lee announced her retirement. She is now fully focused on her non profit organization called Fightstory. It aims ‘to inspire, heal and unite the world through the stories, struggles and triumphs of fighters from all walks of life’.
Lee is auctioning off the title belt that she won by beating Yamaguchi at ONE: ‘Unstoppable Dreams’. Anyone interested in owning this collector’s item should follow the link in her Instagram post.
Lee might be willing to part with the actual belt she won that day but the victory itself will live long in her memory,
“This belt and this win means a lot to me. It represents all of the hardships, struggles, perseverance and fight that I had to overcome. But nothing compares to the gift of life, second chances and paying it forward.”