The mixed martial arts (MMA) community has reacted in shock to the terrible news of 18-year-old ONE Championship fighter, Victoria Lee, passing away unexpectedly in late Dec. 2022.
According to an Instagram post by Victoria’s older sister and fellow ONE fighter, Angela Lee, Victoria died on Dec. 26, 2022, in Hawaii. No cause of death has been made public at this time, and Angela asked the public to, “give our family grace and respect during this most difficult time.
“And please, check on your loved ones,” she added. “Keep checking on them. Give them hugs and tell them how much they mean to you. You just never know.”
The Lee family is deeply embedded in ONE Championship, with Angela the promotion’s Atomweight champion, while brother Christian Lee is the Lightweight and Welterweight champion (as well as the 2019 Lightweight Grand Prix champion). Victoria competed three times for ONE in 2021, going undefeated (3-0) during that time. She was set to fight Zeba Bano on Jan. 13, 2023, at ONE on Prime Video 6 from Bangkok, Thailand.
Fighters from across the MMA world reached out on Angela Lee’s announcement post offering their condolences. Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, Max Holloway, Mackenzie Dern, Henry Cejudo, Demetrious Johnson, Aung La Nsang, Rodtang, Tecia Torres and Alain Ngalani were just some of the names showing up to pay their respects.
ONE CEO, Chatri Sityodtong, had previously pegged Victoria as, “the single greatest pound-for-pound female prospect in the world,” and he released an emotional statement regarding her passing on Facebook.
“I am heartbroken by Victoria Lee’s passing,” Sityondtong wrote. “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. 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,” he continued. “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,” Chatri concluded. “I send my love, prayers, strength, and light to Ken, Jewelz, Angela, Christian, Adrian, and all of their loved ones. I am so truly heartbroken for your loss. May God bless you.”
A celebration of life ceremony will be held for Victoria Lee on Jan. 22, 2023.