PFL buying Bellator & 4 more shocking MMA moments of 2023

MMA was full of surprises in 2023, here are five of the biggest jaw-droppers.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Olivier Aubin-Mercier / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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Angela Lee reveals suicide attempt, retires from MMA

When Angela Lee first burst onto the MMA scene in 2015 with four straight submissions (including a rare twister), she was instantly hailed as a potential megastar, one who could turn ONE Championship into one of the most successful promotions in the history of mixed martial arts.

Her ascent to champion status was fast. After just her fifth fight, she was booked to compete for the vacant atomweight title and won, scrapping her way past Mei Yamaguchi. A dominant reign was surely the next step, but something else happened.

In hindsight, Nov. 6, 2017, will be forever remembered as one of the saddest days in ONE Championship history. That night, with a title rematch against Yamaguchi just over two weeks away, Lee was in her home island of Oahu when she purportedly fell asleep in her car and crashed, rolling multiple times. At the time, business went as usual. The fight was postponed to May as Lee recovered, and she would win.

However, that scene would revisit everyone's minds in 2023. In early January, Lee, coming off becoming a mother and going 2-3 since the Yamaguchi rematch, shocked MMA fans by revealing that her younger sister Victoria, who had been embarking on her own promising MMA career, had died at just 18. No details were revealed at the time, but it would not be long before the world learned of what happened.

Just days before ONE Fight Night 14, which was headlined by a presumed interim title fight between three-sport prodigy Stamp Fairtex and UFC veteran Seo Hee Ham, Lee revealed in an article for The Players' Tribune that the aforementioned November accident was a suicide attempt - the culminating act in a very turbulent period that saw her attempt to pull out of the Yamaguchi rematch by any means necessary. She also revealed that her sister Victoria had taken her own life.

At the event itself, she pulled off her final act: retirement, with Stamp fully succeeding her as atomweight queen - a bittersweet ending to a storied career.