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MMA fighter Victoria Lee dies at 18

The Hawaii-born atomweight represented both the United States and Singapore in ONE Championship fights.

MMA fighter Victoria Lee dies at 18

Mixed martial arts fighter Victoria Lee competing at a ONE Championship event. (File photo: ONE Championship)

SINGAPORE: Mixed martial arts fighter Victoria Lee has died, her sister Angela Lee said on Sunday (Jan 8).

The ONE Championship atomweight was 18 years old.

"On December 26, 2022 our family experienced something no family should ever have to go through," said Angela Lee in a post on Instagram.

"It is incredibly difficult to say this ... Our Victoria passed away.

"She has gone too soon and our family has been completely devastated since then. We miss her. More than anything in this world. Our family will never be the same. Life will never be the same."

Victoria Lee's death in Hawaii was publicly announced by the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Kaneohe on Friday. Her cause of death has not been made public.

Born in Hawaii, Victoria Lee represented both the United States and Singapore as a member of the United MMA and Evolve MMA teams. She was listed as an assistant instructor at Evolve MMA, a chain of martial arts gyms in Singapore.

According to the South China Morning Post, she was slated to compete in her fourth professional MMA fight, against India's Zeba Bano, at ONE on Prime Video 6 on Jan 14 in Bangkok.

"Please give our family grace and respect during this most difficult time," Angela Lee said as she concluded her post.

"And please, check on your loved ones. Keep checking on them. Give them hugs and tell them how much they mean to you. You just never know."

Nicknamed "The Prodigy", Victoria Lee was also the younger sister of ONE lightweight and welterweight champion Christian Lee.

She made her professional MMA debut with the promotion in February 2021, defeating Thailand's Sunisa Srisen by submission with a rear-naked choke in the second round.

Her second fight came in July of the same year, when she scored another submission win with an armbar against China's Wang Luping in less than four minutes.

In her third fight for ONE Championship two months later, she defeated Victoria Souza of Brazil by second-round TKO.

In posts on Instagram and Facebook on Sunday, ONE Championship said: "The ONE Championship team is devastated over the tragic passing of Victoria Lee. We send our most heartfelt condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time."

ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, meanwhile, reflected on her life and career in a post on his personal Facebook page.

"I am heartbroken by Victoria Lee's passing. I first met Victoria when she was 11 years old. I watched her blossom over the years as a martial artist and a human being. I always remember thinking how wise, thoughtful, and selfless she was beyond her years," he said.

"Of course, she was an extraordinary martial arts prodigy even back then, but I could see that she was so much more than that. Victoria had the purest heart of gold and a brilliant mind. She looked after others before herself. She wanted to use her life to help the world. I will always remember Victoria for the beautiful and precious soul that she was.

"May you rest in peace, Victoria. We will all miss you."

Evolve MMA also posted on social media, saying it was "deeply saddened by the tragic passing" of Victoria Lee.

"We send our deepest condolences to her family and everyone who loved her."

A number of figures from the MMA community left their condolences on Angela Lee's Instagram posts.

"Sending love to the family," said Hawaii-based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitor Max Holloway.

"We pray for your family and loved one. Condolences to the family," said retired UFC champion Henry Cejudo.

"This cannot be real," said ONE Championship fighter Aung La Nsang. "I am so sorry to hear that ... condolences to the Lee family."

A celebration of Victoria Lee's life has been scheduled for Jan 22 before her burial, SCMP reported.

Source: CNA/South China Morning Post/nh(kg)


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