Back Injury Forces Angela Lee Out of Bid for Second Title at One Championship ‘Heart of the Lion’

By Tristen Critchfield Nov 5, 2018


Reigning One Championship atomweight titlist Angela Lee will have to put her dreams of being a two-division queen on hold.

One CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced via Facebook on Monday that Lee has withdrawn from a scheduled clash against strawweight champion Jingnan Xiong at the promotion’s ”Heart of the Lion” event on Friday. A back injury forced Lee out of the event.

“I am bummed to announce that our medical team has deemed One Atomweight world champion Angela Lee unfit to compete in One ‘Heart Of The Lion’ this Friday, November 9,” Sityodtong wrote. “As such, I have made the decision to pull Angela off the card, despite her adamance to compete still in the world title fight against One strawweight world champion Jingnan Xiong.

“We all know that Angela is a warrior with an unbreakable spirit. However, she suffered a serious back injury in training last week and badly herniated a spinal disc; she was unable to walk just a few days ago,” he continued. “Doctors suspect that the injury originally happened last year when Angela's car flipped five times on the highway in her near-death accident. If it was up to her, she would still compete this week, even if it meant walking into the cage on crutches.”

Lee offered further detail on the injury in an Instagram post:

“[Two] weeks ago, I was training and I felt like something got strained in my back,” Lee wrote. I rested for a day, got a massage and went back to train. The next day, the pain got worse. And the next few days after that, the pain increased to the point where I couldn’t even sit or stand. There was a sharp, shooting pain in my lower back and it radiated all the way to my toes.

“I went to get an MRI and the results came in. There is a disk between my L4-L5 vertebrae that is cracked. They call this a bulging disk, which causes pressure on the nerve. I’ve been dealing with constant sharp nerve pain, sciatica and muscle spasms.”

The 22-year-old Lee is 9-0 as a professional while competing exclusively under the One Championship banner. She last fought on May 18, when she outpointed Mei Yamaguchi to defend her atomweight belt for a third time.

One Championship “Heart of the Lion” will now be headlined by a bantamweight title unification bout between Bibiano Fernandes and Kevin Belingon. The event takes place at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.

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My dad has always told me that there’s a difference from being “hurt” and being “injured”. As a professional athlete and a fighter, I’ve always been taught to push the extra mile. To endure the pain and tough it out. Giving up is never an option. 2 weeks ago, I was training and I felt like I strained something in my back. I rested for a day, got a massage and went back to train. The next day, the pain got worse. And the next few days after that, the pain increased to the point where I couldn’t even sit or stand. There was a sharp, shooting pain in my lower back and it radiated all the way to my toes. I went to get an MRI and the results came in. There is a disk between my L4-L5 vertebrae that is cracked. They call this a bulging disk, which causes pressure on the nerve. I’ve been dealing with constant sharp nerve pain, sciatica and muscle spasms Even with all of this pain, I still wanted to fight. I was willing to risk it all. I am a fighter and this is the fighter mentality. We always power through. I couldn’t hide this from my dad for too long and as soon as I revealed this to him, he began to weigh the pro’s and con’s. He informed ONE Championship, Chatri Sityodtong and their medical team. Once they reviewed my case, they deemed me unfit to fight. As hard as it was to except their decision, I know that this was the smart thing to do in order to preserve my health and career. I will heal up from this. I will be back. With that being said, I am really bummed out and upset that I won’t be in that cage on Friday night... We trained so hard for this fight. We were so prepared. But life is full of unexpected events and I still believe that- good or bad- everything happens for a reason. I have to trust in that. I know a lot of you may be disappointed. Hell, I am. And I’m sure my opponent, Xiong Jing Nan is as well. I sincerely apologize. This was not something that was in my control. I believe that this incident is just another test of patience & it will fire me up more than ever for my next fight. Injuries suck. Recovery is a process. I appreciate your support, encouragement and understanding during this time

A post shared by Angela Lee Pucci (@angelaleemma) on Nov 4, 2018 at 7:41pm PST

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