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ONE Championship atomweight belt holderAngela Lee got into a heated debate with a Filipino reporter from GMA News when he asked if she should have vacated her title after going on a pregnancy “vacation.”
The two-year “vacation”: The argument happened on Sept. 8 during a virtual call attended by Lee, 25, her brother Christian and their sister, Victoria, on Sept. 8,South China Morning Post reported.
JM Siasat of GMA News allegedly insinuated that Lee was given special treatment by being allowed to take a two-year vacation due to her pregnancy because she is the “poster girl” of ONE Championship, a Singapore-based MMA organization. Lee slammed the statement made by Siasat during the Zoom Webinar.
“Well, I disagree with that,” Lee told Siasat. “First of all, these aren’t normal times. There’s a global pandemic going on, which has made it difficult to host a lot of events. It’s been hard for everyone around the world.”
Lee also pointed out that ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong already put out a public statement addressing the issue. She added, “It’s not because I’m the poster girl. It’s because this is just a given right. I worked so hard to get to the position I’m at, and just because I get pregnant and I want to have a baby I shouldn’t be stripped of my title, something I worked towards.”
Lee’s last fight was with Xiong Jingnan on Oct. 13, 2019, KHON2 reported. She then announced her pregnancy with her husband and fellow MMA fighter, Bruno Pucci, a year later. She delivered her child in April 2021.
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On vacating her title: Siasat pressed on with his questions and asked Lee if the thought ever occurred to her to “take the high road” and vacate the title instead of holding the belt.
“Who would fight for it? Denice is the so-called the number one contender. Who would she fight?” Lee fired back at Siasat. “There was no one else in the division. There was an atomweight Grand Prix that was supposed to be happening, and it was planned before I even announced I was pregnant. Who would she fight? I think it’s ridiculous!”
The argument ultimately ended with Lee saying, “I don’t think that you or me have a say in what this organization does. So let’s leave it up to the people who actually run the company.”
Big upset: Denice Zamboanga from the Philippines was supposed to challenge Lee for the title in October, but the match had to be canceled after her pregnancy announcement. Zamboanga reportedly called for Lee to "do the right thing" and vacate her title, Spin.ph reported.
The Filipino fighter eventually settled in the atomweight Grand Prix, where she lost in the quarter-finals against South Korea's Ham Seo-hee. The winner is set to fight Lee for the title when she returns.
ONE Championship: The Singapore-based organization was created by Sityodtong in order to uplift and highlight Asian athletes in the MMA field, according to their LinkedIn.
On Apr. 6, ONE Championship announced that they would do a campaign in conjunction with the #StopAsianHate organization in order to raise money and awareness for the "Support The AAPI Community Fund" on GoFundMe, their press release reported.
Sityodtong commented on the hate crimes that have been occurring around the world by saying, "It is truly heartbreaking for me to see the Asian American community suffering from hatred, violence and discrimination."
They released a series of videos for their 12-month video campaign, which started Apr. 7, to over 150 countries in order to raise awareness for the cause. The first video was a PSA announcement about hate crimes against Asians.
Featured Image via @angelaleemma
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