Thanh le is the reigning ONE Championship featherweight king and also has his sights set on the lightweight title. He probably feels he has reached the pinnacle of the sport and is in his prime but upcoming opponent Tang Kai doesn’t see things that way.

He will challenge Le for his featherweight crown at ONE 160 later this month. Ten years separates the two fighters and Kai, who has already called the champion an ‘old man’, thinks his opponent’s best days are definitely behind him,

“He is now approaching the end of his career. I think he’s 36 or 37 years old now, and he has a family and kids. I don’t think he will focus on the game and training. But I am still very young. I am 100% committed.”

Seizing opportunities

Le hasn’t just been winning fights, he has been putting opponents away. The American has finished Garry Tonon and put away Martin Nguyen but Kai doesn’t think they have really put pressure on the featherweight champion,

“I think Thanh Le’s weakness is that he doesn’t fight. He was not hit in ONE Championship before but when I meet him I just have to punch him, and he will be defeated.”

Kai’s plan to defeat his opponent by punching him is not exactly original. But the Chinese fighter, who has been preparing for this bout at Tiger Muay Thai, has clearly studied his opponent,

“My skills are better than his. I am better at seizing opportunities. I don’t think this game will go to a decision. I think I’ll KO him.”


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Serious sacrifices

Kai says he has made some serious sacrifices in pursuit of his MMA dreams. He is based long term in Phuket and hasn’t seen his family since the start of his MMA career,

“My family is my motivation because I want to make a better life for them. Since practicing fighting, I’ve sacrificed time with my family. I didn’t go home for New Year’s Eve and I didn’t see my family for five or six years.”

Kai has gambled everything on his MMA career but believes the bet will have paid off handsomely if he can beat Le later this month,

“When I win the next match and win the world championship, I will feel that all my sacrifices and contributions were worth it.”

Winning streak

He comes into this contest on the back of a nine fight winning streak. Kai has a lot of momentum behind him but what he definitely doesn’t have is respect for his opponent.

The 26 year old has a very blunt message for the champion,

“Thanh Le, you’re old. It’s time to retire. I’ll be the new king of the featherweight division.”