Reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee is one of the most called-out champions on the ONE Championship roster. It seems everyone wants a piece of Lee, and a crack at her title. After all, Lee has been dominant at atomweight since capturing the inaugural belt in 2016.
But with her recent pregnancy announcement, and an expected hiatus from competition to focus on motherhood, questions surrounding the future of the atomweight title immediately surfaced.
ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, not long after, announced plans to hold a tournament to determine the number one contender to the title — the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship.
“I think that hosting a Grand Prix for the atomweight division is the perfect way to truly determine who deserves the next shot at the title. This tournament will be the ultimate test of who’s the true number one contender,” said Lee.
Earlier in the year, Sityodtong announced that Filipino athlete Denice Zamboanga had earned a shot at Lee following her incredible performance over former ONE World Title challenger Mei Yamaguchi.
Zamboanga is currently on a three bout win streak in ONE Championship which includes victories over Malaysia’s Jihin Radzuan and Thailand’s Watsapinya Kaewkhon. She is also undefeated, and quickly pulling together a massive fanbase. Naturally, the clamor for a Lee-Zamboanga showdown was steadily gaining traction, especially among the Filipino fans.
But the incumbent queen of the division doesn’t believe Zamboanga has done enough just yet, and feels the Filipina should continue to prove herself and cement her spot in the rankings.
“Honestly, even though Denice beat Mei Yamaguchi, I don’t think that alone qualifies her to be the number one contender. The other girls that she fought were not even ranked. The atomweight division is stacked with at least 10 top talents,” said Lee
“I think that Denice should have to face the top 10 girls first to truly prove herself as the number one contender, and the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship is the perfect way to do that.”
ONE Championship has held multiple Grand Prix tournaments over the past year, which have been well received by fans and media alike. The announcement of an atomweight Grand Prix will likely gain immense interest.
Lee is excited to see all of her former foes, as well as some fresh new faces battle it out to be the last woman standing. She also believes that if her younger sister, recently-signed 16-year-old talent Victoria were to join the tournament, it would be a positive learning experience for the rising young star.
“ONE Championship recently revealed the Top 5 rankings in the atomweight division, which had Denice Zamboanga, Meng Bo, Lin Hequin, Mei Yamaguchi and Gina Iniong. I also think that Stamp Fairtex, Itsuki Hirata and Jihin Radzuan should be in the mix,” said Lee.
“I think that Victoria would do very well if she entered the atomweight Grand Prix. Her skill level is world class, and this tournament would give her the experience she needs to get to the top. My bet would definitely be on her.”
Sityodtong says ONE Championship is slating the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship to commence in early 2021, with further details to come later this year.