Angela Lee is set to have the chance to become ONE Championship's first ever two-weight champion in the very near future.
Lee became mixed martial arts' youngest ever world champion when she won the promotion's atomweight title in May 2016 at just 19. Now 21, she is looking to successfully defend the strap for the third time on 24 November at ONE's Immortal Pursuit card in Singapore against Mei Yamaguchi – a rematch against the woman she defeated to win the title 18 months ago.
Another meeting against an opponent she has already beaten once raises the question of what is next for Lee should she come out on top once more later this month. The undefeated champion has already revealed her ambition to step up from the 47.7kg-52.2kg atomweight category and challenge as a strawweight. According to ONE chairman Chatri Sityodtong, a move up in weight class is a natural next step that will soon come to fruition.
"I think it will happen sooner rather than later because it is one of Angela's dreams and I see no reason why [it can't happen]," Sityodtong told IBTimes UK. "It is a very stacked division and Angela is also growing, she is having a tougher time making the atomweight category so I think strawweight might be more her natural category weight anyway. I think she has the potential and ability to be a two division champion easily.
"I definitely believe that is the on cards for the future, a potential strawweight title fight for her."
Lee herself told IBTimes UK earlier this year she will only make the jump to stawweight when she has beaten everyone before her at her current weight class. "I don't want to rush things, I want to take it one step at a time and earn my way up into the next division," she said in May. "First of all I want to clear out the atomweight division, make sure there is no competition left before I go and take the next belt. It's my goal, be a multiple champion in two different weight classes."
Before she makes that leap, Lee must again find a way past Yamaguchi. Only once has the Vancouver-born fighter been forced to go the distance in her eight professional fights – her title victory over November's opponent, when she was awarded a unanimous decision win.
But according to Sityodtong, this time veteran Yamaguchi will be coming up against someone who is now a "complete fighter" in Lee.
"Angela has really improved by leaps and bounds. She hasn't competed since May but she has been training all the time so I think will we see a brand new version of Angela Lee, probably the greatest Angela Lee we will ever see. She has so much more to prove, she has upgraded her striking, she has upgraded her wrestling, her striking, her MMA game overall. She is now a complete fighter."