Angela Lee and MMA’s project to crack the $18 tn-plus Asian market

The Canadian soldier is a heart-pounding geniu, and could become a huge superstar in countries where martial art are a huge part of the culture

Angela Lee requires parties to think of her as a usual young woman, but thats difficult to accept examining what shes already done.

Im a ordinary person who happens to be a fighter and a nature champ, Lee, 20, tells the Guardian. The Canadian-born, Hawaii-raised fighter says this with a giggle and irrefutable candour. Many people in their own lives, including those who make money off her, paint a picture of canadian athletes poised to breakout big-hearted in Asia her father is from Singapore and her father is South Korean at a time when the continent is beginning to follow mixed martial arts in ways it was unable to before.

Asian gatherings are just now starting to engage in Asian content. All weve ever had access to was North American and European content. We were not prolific in producing excellence Asian content. Im talking world-class material. Sports or soap operas, its very new, said promoter Victor Cui, the CEO International of ONE Championship, an MMA publicity concentrate on construct stellars such as Lee in Asia. The practice I look at it is this: Asia is extremely used to seeing global icons in martial arts, like Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Verifying a talented female martial artist is not something foreign in Asia, which is why I visualize Angela is so readily accepted.

I dont think theres a ceiling to Lees potential, added Cui, a former ESPN executive.

Lee, who is unbeaten seven contends into her professional MMA career, deserves at least a mention alongside the most heart-pounding promises in the boast. Lee captivated the championship region in ONEs atomweight schism last year, and after protecting it for the first time in March she is positioned to become the first breakout boxer of Asian drop-off in many years, with the potential for widespread fame looming.

At the start of Lees career in Asia she was quizzed on her background and patrimony. Soon she learned how to respond. She was half-Korean, half-Chinese Singaporean, she told people, born in Canada and raised in Hawaii. Thats kind of a morsel, Lee explained, but as the means and fan basis in different parts of Asia began to understand her story they speedily countenanced her. Im a mix of everything and I think thats a plus. It gives me more experience culturally knowing that Ive been to these different places around the world.

Lee was also determined by the women innovators who came before her Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey. It became me want to pursue this even more, Lee said. I was training and competing and accompanying them do their act on Tv and being able to travel and do what the hell is adoration, it just really invigorated me. I never had a conceived in my thinker that I wasnt going to make it.

My enormous grandmother actually watches the fights. Shes not scared of anything. I think thats why it kind of runs in our blood in their own families. Were all fighters in some sense.

Unlike Carano, Cyborg and Rousey, from her earliest knows in martial arts Lee was molded as a contestant with a full arsenal. That foot produced a dynamic and aggressive fighter, who to this place has sought to finish her adversaries in a variety of ways.

Coming from a martial art family and being introduced to the play at such a young age, I just kind of grew up in it, Lee said. This is all I kind of knew. Martial artistries is a huge part of “peoples lives” it always has been. I didnt have a second option when it came to career pick. I didnt examine myself being a educator or a doctor or something like that. I knew I wanted to do something MMA related.

Observers of mixed campaigning have anticipated an emergence of young competitors who would be well versed in all aspects of MMA from impressing to fighting from the moment they first stepped into the enclosure. Lee is surely an example of that, and her talent has been a boon to ONE Championship. The advertising, a partner to the Singaporean authority, signed Lee ahead of her professional entry in 2015 and quickly doubled down with a contract that reached Lee among the highest paid female boxers in MMA.

My advantage is that from the beginning I learned mixed martial art as a whole, Lee said. You can see it from the transition from the standup to the sand and everything in between.

Because of Lee and their stable of 450 fighters, ONE has experienced explosive growth during the past five years old, claiming between 10 to 50 experiences the showing in Asia compared to the industry passing UFC.

We have been more fortunate in that there is one common denominator in our world, which is martial arts, said Cui. Its the only play that is truly Asian. Its been the residence of martial art for the last 5,000 times. Every country we go to at its core has some chassis of martial arts that theyre fiercely proud of.

So we actually go into a country and we dont is a requirement to teach anybody that sport, whereas if we were making ice hockey to every country we would need to educate them who the Edmonton Oilers were everywhere we go. But whether youre a five-year-old girl or a 105 -year-old grandmother you know what best available martial artists are like and when two people come together theres nothing to explain.

Considering MMAs business model is less than a one-quarter century old, possibilities for Asia to defy UFCs preeminence should not be dismissed.

Were at the very early days, literally scratching the surface of what the possibilities of is, Cui said. I think youre going to see more and more our content and TV ratings starting to dominate because of the combination of our live programme, the sport, our neighbourhood heroes and the simplicity of the rules. If we are still to exponentially change on social media with material, serviceman, for us to touch a billion thoughts during the first quarter and it took us a year last year I was really shocked.

The potential audience in Asia has Cui most excited. During a panel discussion on Asias entrepreneurs earlier this month in Los Angeles, Cui have also pointed out that China was positioned to invest $18 tn on boasts in the next 20 years. In 2016, Cui moved its term of office from Singapore to Shanghai to focus on developing their Chinese business.

The advantage with Asia is the rest of the world does want to see who the next Bruce Lee is, Cui said. They want to see who the next Asian athlete is[ in fighting plays ]. There is a legal interest among followers to investigate what Asians are going to be the best in the world. Thats not common in any other athletic. No one is waiting for the next Chinese champ in tennis.

In March, Lee saw Shanghai to conduct a workshop with Nike. Unlike in the US, where large-hearted labels have remained reticent to fully support MMA especially after flustering mishaps with the likes of perturbed former UFC champion Jon Jones that inspired Nike to pull back from MMA in North America the Asian slope of the business has been ripe for publicity. Disneys Marvel, for example, are associated with ONE Championship to launch its movies to Asian audience.

Lee is also a big plus for any advertisement are aiming to make inroads in Asia.[ Brands] are becoming more inclined to have an Angela Lee working with them, said Cui. If she used fluent in Chinese that would be amazing.

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