SINGAPORE: Mixed martial arts star Angela Lee has been deemed "unfit" to compete against China's Xiong Jing Nan in Friday's (Nov 9) ONE Championship bout after sustaining a back injury.
ONE Championship founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong said he was "bummed" after a medical team declared Lee unable to compete in the strawweight title match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
"I have made the decision to pull Angela off the card, despite her (insistence) to compete still in the world title fight," said Chatri in a Facebook post.
He added that she suffered a "serious back injury" during a training session and "badly herniated a spinal disc".
The injury left her unable to walk, he said.
"Doctors suspect that the injury originally happened last year, when Angela's car flipped five times on the highway in her near-death accident," he said, referencing the car accident that left Lee unable to fight Japan's Mei Yamaguchi.
Lee explained on Instagram that she felt a strain on her back two weeks ago, which eventually led to a "shooting pain" from her lower back to her toes.
"I’ve been dealing with constant sharp nerve pain, sciatica and muscle spasms," she said. "As hard as it was to (accept the) decision, I know that this was the smart thing to do in order to preserve my health and career.
"I know a lot of you may be disappointed ... And I’m sure my opponent is as well. I sincerely apologise. This was not something that was in my control."
Lee has been ONE's atomweight (up to 52kg) champion since May 2016, but was vying to become the first female MMA world champion across two divisions by snatching Xiong's strawweight title.
Chatri added that Lee's brother, Christian Lee, will be facing Japan's Kazuki Tokudome as the co-main event instead.