• Bivins and 'The Prodigy' became friends at amateur MMA competition in Rome, and ultimately trained together at Lee family's United MMA Hawaii gym
  • 'Thank you for the memories and friendship,' 20-year-old Bivins wrote on Instagram after her friend's death aged 18 - 'we all miss you'

Lea Bivins has paid tribute to her training partner and fellow ONE Championship fighter Victoria Lee, who died at 18 on Boxing Day.

The 20-year-old American shared her thoughts on Lee's death, which was confirmed by the rising MMA star's sister Angela Lee on January 7, in a recent social media post.

"Rest in peace to such an amazing beautiful soul gone too soon," Bivins wrote on Instagram.

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"Thank you for the memories and friendship. My deepest condolences to your family and loved ones."

Bivins also shared a video of the two training together on the mats at the Lee family's United MMA Hawaii gym, which is now reportedly "permanently closed".

"We all miss you," Bivins added.

Angela Lee says 'stop the conspiracy theories' after Victoria's death

California's Bivins first met Lee at an amateur MMA competition in Rome. The pair became friends, and Bivins later visited Lee at her home gym, where Bivins also formed a bond with Lee's older siblings Angela and Christian Lee - both ONE Championship title-holders.

"They're beasts out there," Bivins told the Post last year, soon after she signed with ONE. "They definitely have a whole different training camp. They definitely push the pace. It's a really hard room to be in.

"There's great competitors. You're with Christian Lee, Angela Lee, Victoria Lee, even [youngest brother] Adrian Lee. They're all an amazing martial arts family. It was amazing to get that experience and that confidence."

Bivins made her ONE debut - which marked her first professional MMA fight - at ONE Fight Night 3 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last October. She lost to her opponent Noelle Grandjean by first-round TKO.

Lee made her debut with the promotion in February 2021, defeating Sunisa Srisen by second-round submission. Her next fight came that summer, when she picked up another submission win over Wang Luping, this time in the first round. Her third and final fight occurred in September 2021, when she posted a first-round TKO win over Victoria Souza.

Lee's cause of death has not been made public.

Her family has received an outpouring of condolences and love in the time since her death.

Some of the warmest messages have come from other ONE Championship fighters, including former two-division MMA champion Aung La N Sang, flyweight MMA champion Demetrious Johnson, and former atomweight Muay Thai and kickboxing champion Stamp Fairtex, to name a small few.

ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong also made a statement on Lee's death, and admitted to having "many sleepless nights" since he was informed of the tragedy by her older sister Angela.

Chatri also recently revealed to the Post that January 14 will be commemorated as Victoria Lee Day in ONE going forward.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

2023-01-27T01:17:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd