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Istela Nunes plans to surprise ONE Championship again with upset of Angela Lee

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ONE Championship

Istela Nunes will challenge ONE Championship star Angela Lee for the strawweight title on May 26 in Singapore. And she feels like everyone is against her.

Nunes, who earned a shot at the gold after defeating Mei Yamaguchi in her promotional debut last August, believes the promotion had put her in the cage against the experienced Japanese fighter to build her opponent.

"They didn’t expect me to beat her,” Nunes told MMA Fighting. "They were hoping for a rematch between Mei and Angela, but I surprised the promotion. That gives me extra motivation, yeah. And they are also expecting Angela to beat me too, but it will be just the opposite.”

Both the champion and the challenger are undefeated (Lee 7-0; Nunes 5-0 with a no-contest), but the Brazilian thinks Lee is not as great as she thinks she is — especially after talking about facing someone like UFC champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

"Yes, I do think she is (overrated), and I think she’s underestimating me,” Nunes said. "I don’t underestimate her. She’s a good opponent, but her already talking about the UFC champion… that’s too much for her."

Prior to the biggest fight of her life, Nunes has made some changes in her career. The strawweight, who trained at Parana Vale Tudo in Niteroi for her previous bouts alongside UFC strawweight Jessica Andrade, built her own team in Rio de Janeiro.

"I’m a completely different fighter now," Nunes said.

A year after scoring a vicious head-kick knockout of Karoline Martins Moreira in Brazil, she foresees another finish against the ONE Championship queen.

"I think Angela will try to do what she always does,” Nunes said. "She tried to prove she can strike in her last fight, but it’s easy when you’re fighting a tomato can who doesn’t know how to throw a jab. She doesn’t stand a chance against me standing. She will try to take me down, but won’t get it. I’ll impose my game on her.

"I really want a knockout,” she continued. "I always go for the knockout and it won’t be different this time. I’m training to knock her out, but if the knockout doesn’t come, I’ll win anyway. I’m the first Brazilian (female) fighter to fight for the ONE belt, and in her home country. The crowd will be against me, and I’ll show them she’s not everything they imagine."

Nunes is aiming to win in such a dominant fashion that Lee won’t consider stepping into a cage with her again.

"We already expect them to book an immediate rematch, but I’ll beat her in a way she won’t want more of this,” Nunes said. "She’ll think twice before accepting a rematch with me."