11 May 17 The Straits Times by MELISSA HENG
Professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and undefeated champion Angela Lee has no fear of losing.
"I think that as long as I am well prepared and have the right training and mindset going into the fight, I'll be okay," says the tanned and chirpy 20-year-old. "I try to have a more optimistic mindset - that if I do everything right, then everything should fall into place and I should come out on top."
The Canadian-American, who shuttles between Singapore and Hawaii, holds a perfect 6-0 professional MMA win-loss record. She made her debut with One Championship, a Singapore-based MMA promoter and Asia's largest MMA organisation, in 2015.
"I try not to think about the possibility of losing."
The young fighter's confidence is not all talk.
Ms Lee started learning to fight at a young age. Her Singapore-born father and South Korea-born mother - both martial arts athletes - operate a martial arts studio in Hawaii. They started coaching their first born when she was just three years old.
The whole family are into fighting sports. Her younger brother Christian, 18, is also a professional MMA fighter in One Championship. Her sister Victoria, 12, and brother Adrian, 11, also train in martial arts.
ON HER BAG
I carry two bags with me wherever I go. One is a big duffel bag that can hold all my gym stuff - extra clothes, training gloves and protein powder. The other is a smaller bag containing my wallet, phone and other miscellaneous items. I've had this duffel bag since I started fighting and I carry it all the time.
The 1.65m-tall fighter had clinched a black belt in taekwondo and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu by the time she was a teenager. In 2015, she signed on with One Championship.
Last year, she became the youngest champion in a major MMA organisation after winning the inaugural One Championship atomweight title.
Often lauded by the media and fans as having good looks and fighting prowess, Ms Lee is also a two-time Pankration (a form of MMA) world champion and a Hawaii wrestling state champion.
The passionate athlete, who is dating fellow One Championship fighter and Brazilian Bruno Pucci, 26, has 71,600 followers on Instagram and often posts pictures of herself looking both fierce and sweet in swimsuits, with flowers in her hair.
Her 6-0 winning streak has not come easy. Ms Lee trains tirelessly - four hours a day, six days a week. She also conducts martial arts classes for children.
At the higher end of the atomweight class at 52kg, she has to keep a strict diet to remain in the category for fighters who weigh between 47.7kg and 52.2kg.
Last month, she defended her title against Taiwan's Jenny Huang. She lost about 5kg in two months before the fight and weighed 52kg.
"I went on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein and vegetable diet. It is tough when I am in Singapore. My relatives will want to take me to have hawker food and I'll be like 'I really cannot eat it, I'm so sorry'," she says.
She splits her time between Hawaii, where her family lives, and Singapore, where she trains with other world-class fighters at Evolve MMA, a martial arts organisation headquartered at Far East Square.
Her diet is strict, but not unhealthy. Ms Lee says: "We have to weigh in fully hydrated, so I drink a lot of water. I'm always going to the toilet."
But although having to lose weight is difficult, Ms Lee says she is not thinking of changing weight classes any time soon.
"It would be a lot easier. But I feel it is a good weight class right now to stay competitive," she says, adding that she fights three to four times a year.
"I want to show everyone that I am the best there is here before moving on."
She says she would like to defend her title a few times before even considering another weight division.
Her next fight is on May 26 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and will be against Brazil's Istela Nunes de Souza.
Asked if she is nervous, Ms Lee says she is not.
"I am excited about this match, especially because it will be held in Singapore. Singapore is by far my favourite place to fight and I can't wait to defend my title for the second time."
Asked if she is confident about keeping her undefeated winning streak, the bold fighter says: "Yes, extremely confident."
Things in her bag
These are my MMA gloves. I use them when I train and also when I fight. I've had these for a couple of months. I like to break them in before a fight.
SUPPLEMENTS AND PROTEIN POWDER
I take these throughout the day as they help with muscle recovery. Chocolate and matcha are my favourite flavours. Sometimes, I take these as a meal replacement.
LOTION AND BODY SPRAY
I shower after training and put this on. I can't smell like a fighter all the time - only when I'm training. I picked them up in Canada last year. I love the smell because it's sweet and smells yummy.
I usually carry around some food to snack on throughout the day. This is a mix of cashews, almonds and berries.
My body gets sore from practice and training all the time, so I keep these plasters, cream and pills to ease the pain.
I use Spotify and have my own playlists. They vary from island reggae music, which puts me in a good mood, to R&B to electronic dance music.
I bought this from a surf shop in Hawaii. I like it because it smells like Skittles. I have a sweet tooth.