As the tournament began, the top two ranked contenders, Denice Zamboanga and Meng Bo, were considered the favorites. And they were quite outspoken about their intent to win the tournament and dethrone the champion.
But after just one round, both women have been eliminated from the competition.
Ritu Phogat survived an early onslaught by Meng Bo before rallying for one of the best comebacks of 2021. Lee credited Phogat's toughest to survive before taking over the action. The reigning World Champion noted the impressive feat.
Zamboanga met Seo Hee Ham in a razor-thin battle that saw the South Korean get her hand raised. However, following the win, Ham had to be replaced due to an injury during training. Julie Mezabarba defeated Mei Yamaguchi in an alternate bout to be next in line earlier on the card. Her number was called, and now she will meet Stamp Fairtex in the next round.
"It's a major plot twist for the tournament. Nobody could really see that coming. Things could be really interesting in the next matchup between Stamp and Julie [Mezabarba]," said Lee.
Who does Lee see advancing to the finals?
"There's a high chance that Stamp and Ritu will end up being in the finals together. It's funny because they're both kind of opposite fighters. Stamp is obviously the striker, and Ritu being the grappler. But, yeah, with that being said, don't count anyone out," said Lee.
As the tournament wages on, Lee is preparing for her comeback following the birth of her first daughter.
"My training is going great. I'm really feeling like myself again. And I'm so lucky that I'm able to train full-time alongside my sister, Victoria," said Lee.
Lee will get to see the field narrow to two at ONE: NextGen when the semifinals of the ONE Atomweight Grand Prix take place on Friday, October 29, at 8:30 a.m. EST/5:30 a.m. PST across all Bleacher Report platforms.