Tang Kai challenges for the featherweight title next Friday. He faces off against reigning champion Thanh Le at ONE 160 and wants to become the first Chinese man to win a title with the promotion.
The 26 year old makes it very clear that patriotic pride will be at stake when he faces the champion,
“I hope to make history and show the power of Chinese fighters to the world,” he told ONEFC.com.
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He has become known as a knockout artist since signing with ONE Championship. Kai has finished his last three opponents but says his background is actually in wrestling,
“I started out as a wrestler. Wrestling is a sport that represents the strong. Whether in practice or in competition, they need strong power all the time.”
Initially he dreamed of representing China at the Olympic Games,
“My goals were to take training and competition seriously (but) of course to participate in the Olympics is a dream.”
But even though he was focused on wrestling Kai still had an interest in other more violent combat sports,
“I’ve always followed all kinds of fights. Punching is what I like more than wrestling and being able to stop an opponent by KO made me more excited,” he said.
Tang Kai goes HEADHUNTING 🤯 #ONE160 | Aug 26 | #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/duEyYQmYJm
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) August 5, 2022
The Chinese fighter thinks that MMA was a better fit for him than wrestling,
“I think mixed martial arts is more in line with my personality, simple and direct, without so many restrictions and constraints of rules,” he said.
He is currently riding a nine fight winning streak that has included six ONE Championship wins. Having made his MMA debut back in 2006 it has taken Kai eight years to mount his ascent to the pinnacle of the sport.
He has definitely not been an overnight success, years of hard work have gone into establishing Kai as the #1 contender in ONE Championship’s featherweight division.
Kai says he plans to send Le into retirement next week. He has left no stone unturned in his preparation and even relocated to Thailand where he has been training at Tiger Muay Thai alongside rising ONE Championship bantamweight star Fabricio Andrade.
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Kai has had to make several sacrifices and thinks it is his willingness to work that has made him such a success,
“I think everybody can achieve something with talent, and hard work is a talent. The most important thing is how much you put into it.”
Kai is a worker not a dreamer. He is within touching distance of his goal but is out there every day grinding in the gym in order to be able to beat the champion rather than lying awake at night visualizing the moment.
For Kai the mantra is very clear,
“Dreams come true through action, not imagination.”