Christian Lee’s lightweight title shot at ONE: ‘Enter the Dragon’ came out of the blue. The possibility of a fight between him and Shinya Aoki had never previously been broached and no-one was more surprised than the challenger,
“It really came out of nowhere. It did come as a surprise, I’m not going to lie (but) they asked if I wanted the fight and I automatically said ‘yes’. I didn’t have to think twice.”
Lee is coming off back to back first round stoppage wins that encapsulated the aggressive performances he made his name with. Nine of his 11 wins have come inside the opening five minutes and the 20 year old looks to be back to his best.
He actually knows Aoki well from the time they have spent training together at Evolve MMA and was surprised to hear the Japanese lightweight announce after ONE: ‘A New Era’ that he wanted to fight him,
“It definitely took me by surprise and happened quickly but as soon as I got word of it I called my dad and said, ‘is this real?’ Then we talked to Chatri (Sityodtong) about it and he said, ‘let’s make it happen’,” he said.
Lee has spent his entire career competing at featherweight. But at 5’10” he is one of the taller fighters in the division and is still growing.
It was inevitable he would move up but unusual, albeit not unprecedented, for a fighter to be handed a title shot in their first ever bout in a new division.
However circumstances have conspired to open this opportunity. Eight of ONE Championship‘s top lightweights are tied up in the ongoing Grand Prix meaning that matchmakers had to think outside the box in order to get Aoki on the Singapore card.
That opened a unique opportunity for Lee and he is determined to seize it,
“For me, the game plan is (to) find the finish wherever I see it. I feel I will finish Shinya Aoki in the first round.”
It’s a bold prediction but there aren’t many in the MMA world with a better track record than Lee when it comes to finishing opponents in the opening round.
The last time he fought for a title at the Singapore Indoor Stadium the 20 year old put in the first, and only, sub par performance of his career to drop a dull decision to Martin Nguyen.
This is the perfect opportunity for the 20 year old to remind the fans in his father’s hometown why he earned a reputation for being such an exciting fighter.
That matchup might have come completely out of left field. But it pits the premier submission specialist in the division against the man who normally wins inside a round and Lee is hoping he can capture the lightweight crown by scoring his biggest stoppage win yet.