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ONE champ Angela Lee: After my title win, my new contract ‘really surprised me’

By Mike Johnson on Aug 15, 2016 7:58 PM

ONE Championship atomweight champion Angela Lee says receiving such a good contract after her title win in May was surprising to her.

Angela Lee has become one of the biggest stars in women’s mixed martial arts in a little less than a year. She made her professional debut in May 2015 and picked up an impressive first-round submission victory. "Unstoppable" continued her winning ways throughout the past year, and has since compiled a record of 6-0.

She fought for the inaugural ONE Championship women’s atomweight title at ONE Championship 42 three months ago, and defeated Mei Yamaguchi by five-round decision for the belt. It was a back-and-forth affair — both fighters had their moments. It was also the first time Lee went to the judges’ scorecards in her professional fighting career. The win didn’t come easily for her, by any means.

But Lee’s hard work over the past year has certainly paid off.

After her title win, she signed a new contract with ONE Championship, which is based out of Singapore. According to the organization’s founder and chairman, Chatri Sityodtong, the new contract made Lee one of the highest paid fighters in women’s mixed martial arts. Sityodtong also added that Lee is now making more money than current UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Invicta FC champ/UFC contender Cristiane Justino.

"I am pleased to announce that ONE atomweight world champion Angela Lee’s new contract now makes her one of the world's highest-paid female athletes in the entire sport of MMA for any organization," he wrote in a May social media post." Without going into details due to confidentiality reasons, she is also now in the top 5 highest paid fighters — man or woman — in ONE Championship.

"At only 19 years old, she is already one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. And without a doubt, she is the best in the world in her weight class."

Lee wasn’t expecting to receive such a good contract after her most recent win.

"That really, really surprised me," Lee told BloodyElbow.com’s The MMA Circus. "I’m just so grateful for everything that’s happened to me. I’m just this 20-year-old kid. Being able to have that kind of support and know that I’m making that kind of income is really nice. Especially because women, they don’t get paid equally in this world. It’s kind of awesome to see that ONE Championship is taking a step forward because in Asia, it’s really bad."

Lee doesn’t know whether she really is one of the highest paid female mixed martial artists or not, but at the end of the day, that label doesn’t matter to her.

"How accurate is it? I don’t really know," she admitted. "I’m just happy with whatever that they’re [willing to pay me]. I’m not complaining."

Despite ONE Championship’s limited promotion and marketing in North America, Lee, a part-time citizen of Hawaii and Vancouver, B.C., native, is still more than OK fighting for ONE Championship — the money likely helps.

"I’m really happy in ONE Championship," she said. "Here, where I live in Hawaii, it’s actually really awesome because before, all they knew was UFC. They’re like, ‘Oh, MMA, UFC.’ They kind of just made that connection. Now that me and my brother are fighting in ONE, it’s kind of just spreading naturally into the States.

"The time difference makes it a bit inconvenient. But they’re growing. Who knows? I think they’re gonna plan on expanding into other places in the world, too. So, I mean, they really have so much potential and I’m happy to just grow with them."

The women's divisions in ONE Championship are still relative new, although it was started before the UFC ever had a women's division. It allows women a chance to compete in combat sports, in particular mma, where it is steady growing in Asia and across the world. Having a renounced household name helps to captivate the audience in any sport and also help to inspire others to take up the sport. ONE Championship has done well to incorporate women bouts into their events as much as possible. Hopefully, moving forward there will be at least one women bout per event.

Source: Nick Baldwin