Though the the chances of a fight happening any time soon are a long shot because they are in two different promotions, Lee is ready to do it.
“It’s something that I’m all open for,” Lee told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I think that it would be a really great opportunity. For me, every day I’m just learning and growing and evolving even more as a fighter. And so it would be a really great fight. I would definitely look forward to that.”
Lee, who is just 20 years old, is undefeated at 7-0 with all her fights coming under the ONE banner. She won the ONE Championship 115-pound title (atomweight in ONE, strawweight in the UFC) in a Fight of the Year candidate over Mei Yamaguchi in May 2016 and defended it via third-round submission (punches) against Jenny Huang in March. Lee, who lives in Hawaii, is considered one of the top up-and-coming fighters in all of MMA.
Jedrzejczyk (13-0) is also undefeated and is one of the most tenured champions in the UFC, holding the strawweight title since March 2015. The Polish kickboxer is known for her dynamic and aggressive striking.
Lee said she watches the UFC and fighters like Jedrzejczyk and while she doesn’t think she’d steamroll all of them, she thinks she could be competitive in that division.
“I think that because the UFC is the major organization here in North America, a lot of time people don’t pay as much attention to the other organizations and they might [discredit them],” Lee said. “I think when I watch the fighters fight, I don’t necessarily talk like that, but I know that I can hang with them. I’m pretty confident in my skillset that I could do well.”
Lee is under contract with ONE, though, and will defend her title against Istela Nunes on May 26 in Singapore in the main event of ONE: Dynasty of Heroes. It’ll be her second fight in three months after a 10-month layoff. Lee said after six fights in between May 2015 and May 2016, it was nice to have somewhat of a break to head back to the gym and refine her game.
“It was really great to work so hard, put your head down and grind, grind, grind,” Lee said. “And then have a little bit of a break to spend time with my family, to relax and to also upgrade my skills.”
Lee has seen her profile rise quickly in Asia and even now in the United States and Canada. Lee was born in Vancouver to a martial arts family. Her brother Christian is also an MMA fighter and her parents were martial arts competitors for years.
“Unstoppable” acknowledges that it is sometimes difficult to juggle all the obligations, training and fights. Lee went to UFC 168 to see Ronda Rousey face Miesha Tate and drew inspiration from Rousey, who was the reason the UFC brought in women fighters. Rousey has now lost two in a row, though, while attempting to divide her time between fighting and Hollywood.
“It’s so nice to see what she’s done for women’s MMA in the UFC, in North America,” Lee said. “Because that was something that wasn’t there before, at all. Going to Las Vegas and seeing her fight live, I still have so much respect for Ronda and all that she’s done.
“This sport that we’re in, MMA, it’s crazy. It’s full of highs and lows and everything happens so fast. I think at the end of the day, you have to really make the most of your time. That’s what’s going to count. I think that she’s made the most of her time and she’s done amazing things in that time.”
Lee hopes to make the most of her time, too. And she has a long way to go. Lee said she feels like she can do MMA forever, but that’s, of course, not very realistic. For the interim, she’s focusing on ONE and its atomweight division, hoping that the promotion keeps the challengers and contenders coming.
“They do have a handful of fighters, but I would like to see those numbers increase in the next year,” Lee said.
If not, maybe that fight with Jedrzejczyk will be waiting for her one of these days.