A feud seems to be developing between Danielle Kelly and Angela Lee. The two came face to face at the ONE 161 press conference in Los Angeles last week.

The focus was on the upcoming fight between Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson that will headline the promotion’s first ever card to be broadcast live on Amazon Prime. But the two atomweights exchanged words and ONE Championship shared all the details on Instagram earlier today:

 

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Casting shade

Lee is the reigning atomweight champion in her sport, which is MMA. She is also one of the biggest stars on the roster and has headlined some of the most prestigious cards.

It appears Kelly wants a piece of that action. The jiu jitsu specialist appeared to be casting shade at Lee when asked about a potential matchup responding,

“I’m a jiu-jitsu person so I’ve been focusing on legit grapplers. But if they want to give me that match, I’ll take it in a heartbeat.”

Lee has probably got bigger fish to fry. She is expected to take on former Road FC and Rizin atomweight champion Seo Hee Ham in a title fight although we don’t have a date for that yet.

But she accused Kelly of trying to ‘stir up drama’ and challenged her to an MMA fight,

“She’s trying to stir up drama saying that. Step into the circle with me, put on your MMA gloves and let’s go.”

New direction

The comments from Kelly are surprising because she has been complimentary about Lee in the past and is clearly well aware that she has a BJJ black belt. Earlier this year she told SCMP MMA that,

“I saw Angela Lee pull off a really good Twister attempt. I’ve been working on those, I love those, so it would be cool to have a match-up with her. She’s been fighting and grappling for awhile. She’s a black belt as well.”

The promotion appears to have been pushing a potential submission grappling match between the two. Kelly was asked about it earlier this month and declared that she would win by submission in “under five minutes, either by leg lock or take her back and choke her out”.

Lee was asked about the prospect of facing Kelly in a submission grappling bout by the official ONE Championship website and sounded equally confident. She said, “I see it ending in me submitting her”.

Tasting defeat

Lee did once compete in a submission grappling bout organized by ONE Championship although there was no ring or cage. She was submitted by fellow BJJ black belt in Macau in 2016.

Nicolini would go on to beat Lee in an MMA fight in 2019, one of only two losses on the Hawaiians record. The previous year she had earned a black belt in BJJ.

Kelly earned her BJJ black belt two years ago. But unlike Lee she has focused exclusively on competing in submission grappling tournaments and has at least 18 contests on her record.

With Lee focused on defending her atomweight title in MMA and Kelly only interested in submission grappling this could be a difficult match to make. But the two have already had plenty to say on the subject and it will be interesting to see whether the feud develops.