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Sports Vancouver-born fighter (Unstoppable) Angela Lee goes after world title

Vancouver-born MMA fighter (Unstoppable) Angela Lee is shown in a handout photo. Vancouver-based fighter Lee is going after the world title.

Handout/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Given the dizzying speed of Angela Lee's rise in mixed martial arts, perhaps it's not surprising that the 19-year-old Vancouver-born fighter goes after a world title Friday.

Lee, who made her pro MMA debut on May 22, 2015, has won five straight in the Asian-based One Championship. Now only five rounds with Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi stand in the way of claiming the atomweight (105 to 115 pounds) championship belt as One Championship crowns its first female champion.

"It's been a crazy ride so far," said Lee, who has lived up to her nickname Unstoppable.

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"It's really just so surreal. I can't even believe it's been less than a year and, wow, so much has happened," she added.

The Lee-Yamaguchi fight is the main event at the "Ascent to Power" show at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Brazil's Roger Gracie (7-2-0) faces Poland's Michal Pasternak (11-0-0) in the co-main event, with the light-heavyweight world championship on the line.

The men's title fight is also the first in the weight class for One Championship, whose CEO is Edmonton-born Victor Cui.

Attractive, well-spoken and with roots in Singapore and South Korea as well and Canada and the U.S., Lee ticks a lot of boxes for One Championship. She can also fight.

Lee's pro career has lasted all of 22 minutes 40 seconds. All five wins have come by submission: two by rear-naked choke, one via armbar, one by neck crank and another by the rare twister.

Essentially the twister involves a nasty corkscrew-like twist of your opponent, pulling the lower body one way via a leg triangle and the upper body the other way by neck crank. It was the first such submission in the history of One Championship. It has also only happened once in the UFC, in 2011 when Chan Sung Jung — better known as the Korean Zombie — stopped Leonard Garcia.

"I wanted to create some attention because I wanted that shot at the title," Lee said of her string of submission wins. "I knew they didn't have a women's champion yet and I wanted to be the first."

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Critics might point to Lee's previous five opponents having a combined record of 9-9 when they met her. But Yamaguchi (15-8-0) comes with established credentials. The 33-year-old veteran has been a pro since 2007, when Lee was 10, and held titles in two other organizations.

"One of the best in the world right now at atomweight," said Lee, who normally walks around at 120 pounds.

Yamaguchi has never been stopped, with all eight losses coming by decision. A durable fighter, she has also won seven decisions.

But while Lee respects Yamaguchi, she is anything but awed.

"I'm curious to see how she's going to prepare for me but as soon as we step into that cage (Friday), I'm going to bring it to her and give her everything I've got. I don't think that she'll be able really handle what's coming."

Lee, who now makes her home on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, comes from a fighting family. Father Ken and mother Jewelz are decorated martial artists who teach at their United MMA gym in Waipahu where Angela and 17-year-old brother Christian, who is 3-0-0 in One Championship action, are instructors.

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Younger sister Victoria and brother Adrian also train in mixed martial arts.

Ken was born in Singapore and Jewelz in South Korea. She moved to Hawaii at a young age while he came to Canada at the age of four. They met in Hawaii when Ken went there for high school, moving to Canada after graduation and eventually marrying.

Angela lived in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada until she was seven, when the family moved to Hawaii. Angela, who has dual Canadian-American citizenship, graduated from high school in 2014. She had three amateur fights then signed with One Championship.

Both Lees fight under the Singapore flag and Angela has held training camps in both Singapore and Hawaii.

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