She was asked about the prospect of Stamp making history by winning ONE Championship titles in kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA but does not sound too concerned about her opponent’s striking credentials,
“That’s in her world, and she’s going to be entering my world now.”
Lee was watching and says she ‘was not too surprised’ when the Muay Thai fighter secured the submission,
“It was a great fight. I think everyone must be shocked that Stamp won via armbar but I’m actually not too surprised. I did expect Stamp to have a more well-rounded MMA game, and in the fight, you could see that. You could see that Stamp had the more well-rounded MMA game, and I think her team had a really smart strategy for her.”
Lee acknowledges that Stamp’s ground game is getting better,
“I think that her grappling game has definitely improved. You can see the improvements, especially in that fight with Ritu.”
But she thinks that Phogat’s limitations were also exposed in that fight,
“You know (Ritu) has got great takedowns, but the ground game, you don’t really see her improving her position from there or looking for the finish. A lot of times, she kind of just controls her opponents when she gets the takedown.”
Having followed the tournament closely she was also preparing for the possibility of a fight with Phogat and saw the same weaknesses that Stamp exploited,
“I do see that, in previous fights as well, she left herself exposed at times or was susceptible for submissions and Stamp, as soon as she got to the ground, got taken down, she went right to work to set up that triangle. I think she did a great job.”
Lee has held the atomweight title for five years.
She thinks that experience gives her an advantage but the champion knows she will need to work harder than ever,
“I’ve been the champion since 2016. I know what it takes to get to the title, and I know what it takes to defend the title. So when I’m preparing to make my comeback, I’m going to be going above and beyond what needs to be done to make sure that you don’t see any kind of ring rust when I step in that cage. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I’m ready for that.”
Miesha Tate recently made a successful UFC comeback after taking a lengthy break to have two children. But she came up short in her second fight since returning and is not really in the title mix.
As the champion Lee knows she won’t be getting any tune up bouts but it doesn’t sound like she is lacking in motivation,
“You know what? I think that there are some things that are true and some things that are untrue when it comes to being away from fighting for a few years. I know that these girls have been actively competing. Stamp has been fighting back-to-back for the past year, so I know that’s definitely going to be to her advantage, and that’s what’s going to motivate me to train even harder during this fight camp.”
Stamp has competed for ONE Championship nine times since Lee last fought although two of them were kickboxing or Muay Thai bouts. She has a lot of momentum with her but the champion feels she has a point to prove,
“Everyone’s looking to see how I’m going to be, how I’m going to look in the fight because of the time off. People are saying that pregnancy has changed me and being a mom has made me a weaker fighter, but I’m looking to prove them wrong. So, I think that we both have a lot to prove going into this fight.”
A lot of pressure
This will be Lee’s seventh title fight. She is used to the pressure that comes with competing for belts but acknowledges that returning after a two year absence means she will be subject to more scrutiny.
She thinks both fighters will be under pressure for different reasons and it could come down to who handles it better,
“I think we both have a lot of pressure going into this fight. With Stamp, definitely, I have been seeing the news and seeing how she’s gunning for that third world title. But for me, there’s a lot of pressure as well.”