ONE: Kingdom of Warriors is set for the Impact Arena on March 11 and Asia’s biggest MMA promotion kicked off the pre-show publicity with a press conference in Bangkok and an international conference call on Tuesday.
The card will be headlined by an atomweight title bout between champion Angela Lee and challenger Jenny Huang. The other match-up currently confirmed is in the same division and pits two promotional newcomers, Rika Ishige and Audreylaura Boniface, together.
The other Thai fighters in attendance at the press conference were Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Shannon Wiratchai, Yodsanan Sityodtong, and Kritsada Kongsrichai. All of them are likely to feature on the card, but the center of focus for the international media was clearly Lee.
She was asked about her upcoming title defense at the conference call and the undefeated 20-year-old said she is looking forward to fighting in Bangkok for the first time.
“I am so excited for my first title defense. It’s truly an honor for me to be fighting here in Bangkok. I have been training extremely hard and can we put on an exciting show for everyone,” she told the media.
After easily submitting her first five opponents, Lee went the distance with Mei Yamaguchi to win the inaugural ONE Championship atomweight title. She believes the experience of having spent 25 minutes in the cage with a veteran will serve her well ahead of her first defense.
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“I think I gained a lot of confidence from that fight (and) I feel like I have learned more in that five-round fight with Mei than I did (in) all my other fights combined. I gained so much knowledge and so much experience from that fight, so I am really grateful.”
Yamaguchi was the first opponent Lee had failed to finish in either her amateur or professional career, but this was one fight that the Singaporean Canadian star was just happy to win.
“I did try to finish the fight and even though it didn’t happen I wouldn’t have changed anything about it just because I think it was an amazing experience that I am so glad I went through,” she said.
However, she hopes to finish her next fight in more emphatic fashion and Lee told reporters that she was looking to showcase the full extent of her skillset in Bangkok on March 11.
“Obviously you know any champion’s first title defense is crucial. I am really looking to making a statement with this fight. Jenny, she’s had great fights and she’s earned her shot at the title. I am taking her very seriously, but I think that this is my time to really show the world who I am as a fighter and solidify myself as a champion.”
During the press conference, Lee stated her belief that she was better than Huang “everywhere,” but she showed plenty of respect for the undefeated Taiwanese atomweight.
“I think that Jenny is a good fighter, a good contender. She’s had five fights so far and she has earned her way to this title shot. So I am taking her very seriously. I think she is very well rounded as a fighter and also she specializes in grappling. So I think it will be exciting for the fans to see how our styles match up and it should be a really good fight.”
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Lee had been expected to make the first defense of her title in November. However, the fight with Yamaguchi was her sixth bout in the space of 12 months and the newly crowned champion felt that it was time for a rest.
“I wouldn’t say it took so much out of me physically, but more mentally and emotionally, there was a lot of pressure going into that fight and the training was very rigorous. So I really appreciated the time off, but I am hungry to get back in that cage now.”
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