However, that unfortunate situation paved the way for a big opportunity for the 20-year-old.
This Friday, 9 November, he will square off against Pancrase Lightweight Champion Kazuki Tokudome(18-9-1) in the show’s co-main event. The bout will be contested at a catch weight of 73 kilograms.
Despite the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion being forced to withdraw from her scheduled title challenge with strawweight queen “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan, her family still planned on attending the event.
While they were en route to Singapore, ONE Championship’s matchmaking committee got ahold of “The Warrior” and proposed a short notice match-up with Tokudome.
“It’s actually kind of a funny story,” the former ONE Featherweight World Title challenger begins.
“Chatri Sityodtong (ONE Championship Chairman and CEO) broke the news about Angela’s back injury, and we knew this going into it, but we were waiting until they released the news [before saying anything].
“It was on the plane ride over [to Singapore when I was offered the bout]. My dad had Wi-Fi on the plane and they asked us if we wanted to take the fight in Singapore. I said, ‘Sure, no problem. Let’s do it.’”
Although Lee was offered the bout on five days’ notice, he did not hesitate to accept.
“The Warrior” trains regularly, even when a match is not booked, so he has the utmost confidence in his skills and physical condition.
Also, he relishes the opportunity to step back into the ONE cage and compete in front of a home crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“I am extremely prepared. We train year round, and I’m prepared to face anyone, anytime,” he explains.
“When I got the call, I was excited. There were no second thoughts. It’s a great opportunity for me, and I love coming here to Singapore and fighting in front of my friends and family.”
“The Warrior” has an extremely difficult task ahead of him in Singapore, however.
Tokudome is a judoka who has competed in the mixed martial arts for the past 11 years. He captured the Pancrase Lightweight Championship in November 2015, and successfully defended it before joining The Home Of Martial Arts earlier this year.
In July, the 31-year-old Tokyo native made his promotional debut, and he showed to a global audience that he is a durable athlete with a sharp overall skill set. To date, he holds nine knockout victories and three submission wins.
Lee respects the veteran’s immense talent, and knows he will present a formidable challenge on Friday.
“I feel like Tokudome is a very well-rounded opponent,” he says.
“For the most part, he’s a generalist, but he does have a good, fast straight left and good wrestling. I feel like he’s more of a counter wrestler. He’s judo-based with some fast hands. I’ll be looking for that.”
The Singaporean does not appear too threatened, however. He feels extremely confident ahead of his catch weight showdown.
Lee thinks his skills match up very well with Tokudome, and believes he will be able to finish him early.
“I see this fight starting very quick, and I see it ending in a first-round submission,” he predicts.
“I’m going to go out there, I’m going to pick this guy apart, and I’m going to show him something no one has ever showed him before.”