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Stamp Fairtex: Angela Lee ‘still my idol’ whether she returns or never fights again

When Stamp Fairtex competes for the interim ONE Championship atomweight title on Friday, she’s not sure she has a chance to win the belt.

Reigning ONE atomweight champion Angela Lee has not competed since October 2022, most recently defending her title against Stamp in March 2022. Lee recently revealed that she was dealing with mental health issues; her 18-year-old sister, Victoria Lee, died by suicide in December. ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong has unveiled an interim atomweight title amid questions surrounding the title’s return.

Despite not knowing whether Lee will return, Stump had nothing but unqualified praise for her former rival.

“I’m just rooting for her,” said Stump, who faces UFC veteran Seo Hee Ham at ONE Fight Night 14 on Friday. “If she wants to come back and fight, that’s no problem. If she doesn’t want to fight anymore, that’s okay. Because she is still my idol and I still support her.”

While the word “undisputed” won’t be associated with Stump’s fight, she still understands the importance of a moment like this, especially if Lee chooses not to fight again.

“Obviously it’s a temporary title, but it’s still very important,” Stamp explained. “If Angela Lee comes back, the winner will fight for the real belt. If she doesn’t come back, Chatri (Sityodtong) may make the interim title holder the official title holder.”

Winning the interim title would also make Stamp the first fighter in ONE Championship history to hold gold belts in three different disciplines after winning gold in Muay Thai and kickboxing. This is an especially special accomplishment for her, considering her relative naivety about MMA.

“I didn’t know about MMA until six years ago,” she revealed. “For me, to be here in six years, without knowing anything about the sport, is really proud. As a Thai woman, to win combined in a sport that was very, very foreign to me. I’m also very proud of the fighting gold belt.”

In a short period of time, Stamp has learned a lot and amassed an impressive 10-2 resume. The most valuable lesson came against Lee in their first meeting, when Stump suffered a submission defeat in her initial attempt to become a three-sport champion.

“It was a good experience,” Stamp said. “It was a good experience because Angela Lee is a black belt (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), so it was a real lesson. I was able to fight with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, which was also a really deep lesson because I learned about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I needed to develop it further in my fighting game.”

Friday marked Stump’s second attempt at becoming the ONE atomweight champion. While she believes nothing can compare to the moment she first fought Lee, the interim belt was just the beginning.

“Being with Seo Hee-ham this time is also stressful, but it’s not the same kind of pressure,” she said. “Because I’m not going to fight my idol again. (This time) it’s a chance to prove myself and get better. It’s just a great opportunity.”

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