Stamp Fairtex and Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat thought they were going to face off one last time before the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS on Friday, December 3, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Little did they know that they would be joined by ONE Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, as she crashed the party and gave the pair a glimpse of their future should they get their hands raised after the match.
The 25-year-old titlist sees growth throughout the weight class she continues to dominate. The best example of Lee’s claim was those two ladies, who improved tremendously since her maternity break.
“The atomweight division is the most stacked division, especially for the female fighters. Because of this Grand Prix, we see so many new faces, and we have a whole list of contenders,” Lee said.
“After this finale, I’ll be focused on who my next opponent is going to be – my first title defense back. There’s going to be a lot more challenges to come after that, so one step at a time.”
While Lee had some history with other atomweight contenders in the past, like top-ranked Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga and 5-ranked Meng Bo, it’s quite the opposite with Stamp and Phogat, whom she had nothing but positive words for.
The world champion with an 80 percent finish rate believes that she doesn’t expect unnecessary drama should she meet either one of the two.
“I really love Stamp and Ritu. I think they both have such big hearts, and they’re both very humble. I’ve been a fan of them for a while now, so I just want to congratulate them both on being in the finals of this World Grand Prix tournament,” Lee said.
“I’m very eager to see how they face off on 3 December. I think there’s huge mutual respect among us. I just appreciate the respect.
“I think that you don’t need to trash talk your opponent. I don’t think that’s who they are, and that’s not who I am. We don’t need to put on a show for the world and create some kind of drama that’s not there.”
When put on the spot to call the match’s outcome, Lee begged off from favoring one over the other. However, she expects a fantastic showdown between the #2- and #4-ranked contenders, with whoever imposes their will claiming victory.
“I think both ladies are, you know, world-class in their styles. Everyone knows Stamp Fairtex. She’s known for her world-class [skills] in Muay Thai and kickboxing, being a former world champion. And Ritu as well. She’s an incredible wrestler, and that’s her strong suit, where she shines,” the titleholder with a 10-2 MMA record said.
“I think it comes down to who’s able to utilize their mixed martial arts game as a whole, who can really incorporate mixing up the ranges and the styles, and who has a more complete MMA game.
“It’s anyone’s game. I think that their heart and their will are definitely going to be tested. I’m looking forward to seeing who’s going to be victorious and who’s going to be the World Grand Prix Champion.”