It’s been a year of redemption for Stamp Fairtex in 2021.
That’s because Fairtex, 24, emerged the champion of the ONE atomweight world Grand Prix MMA tournament, earning the right to challenge champion Angela Lee in 2022.
A win over Lee would vault Fairtex back into her former status in 2019, when she was the two-sport champion phenom, taking names in the ONE Muay Thai and kickboxing divisions.
I had the opportunity to talk to Fairtex last year in June on my TKO Countdown show, just before her August 2020 Muay Thai title defence against Allycia Rodriguez. At the time, it seemed that her focus was spread over a lot of disciplines.
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And then the wheels fell off. Fairtex lost both of her belts in a six-month period and had a decision to make. Focus on one, or try to tread water in all three.
Stamp focused on MMA. It did produce a disappointing loss to Alyona Rassohyna in January. But she rebounded with a victory over Rassohyna in the rematch during the tournament.
But the real test is Angela Lee.
Lee has defended the belt four times since winning it in 2016. She’s proven to have a lot of cage savvy, knowing how to take the starch out of an opponent and when to use her striking to set up her formidable ground game.
Fairtex has improved tremendously on the ground and as a MMA competitor, but her relative inexperience is a hole that Lee will try to exploit.
The bout will the first for Lee since taking time off for her pregnancy in April. There will be some cage rust for Fairtex to take advantage of. But as the underdog, Stamp needs to be extremely prepared in order to fully complete her redemption.
Fortunately, Stamp is well-versed with preparation.