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Women's MMA has 'huge' potential

Sports | May 19, 2017
Mixed martial arts may have started as a male-dominated sport, but women have grappled their way to the upper echelons of MMA and will only gain more popularity in the coming years, undefeated champion Angela Lee said.

"I think that women's MMA is very mainstream. Over the last couple years, it kind of just exploded and it's a whole new market," Lee said.

"I think it's just going to go on this upward trajectory in the next three years - it's going to be huge," added the 20-year-old Lee, who last year became the youngest MMA world champion by winning the ONE Championship atomweight, or under 52.2 kilograms title.

Women's MMA has been around since the 1990s but it took Olympic judo medalist Ronda Rousey's signing just five years ago with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to help bring it to the general public.

Underscoring the growing appeal of women's MMA, Lee will headline the fight card at ONE's 'Dynasty of Heroes' event in Singapore next Friday. She will seek to defend her title against Brazil's Istela Nunes, a two-time Muay Thai world champion. Similarly, the main card at UFC's Fight Night next month, also in Singapore, features Holly Holm - best-known for dealing Rousey her first loss - taking on Bethe Correia.

Lee said the combat sport was enjoying strong growth in Asia and was a plus for women in the region.

Lee was born in Vancouver, Canada and moved to Hawaii as a child. She burst onto the scene in 2015 when she signed with Singapore-based ONE. She has since built a 7-0 record.

REUTERS



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