There are no prizes for trash talking in ONE Championship. And there are certainly no title shots handed out purely on the basis that a challenger has a bigger mouth than any of his rivals.

Having spent the majority of his career competing in the U.S. featherweight newcomer Than Le knows there is only one way he will secure himself a shot at Martin Nguyen‘s belt,

“The thing I love about ONE, you can’t talk your way into a title fight. You have to fight the good guys. You have to fight the gatekeepers or the guys on the next rung of the ladder. You have to fight the number one contenders.”

Like Lee, Nguyen comes from a Vietnamese family. It is a fight which could go down extremely well in Ho Chi Minh but unfortunately MMA has not yet been sanctioned by the authorities there.

Thanh Le knocks out Yusup Saadulaev

Big plans

But Le, who faces Kotetsu Boku at ONE: ‘Dreams of Gold’ next week, does not have a specific timeline in mind for his title shot,

“Beat Boku, beat whoever they put in front of me (after that) and if it happens to be Martin that’s the next guy on my hit list. That’s the plan.”

Boku burst onto the scene by knocking out Zorobabel Moreira to become the inaugural ONE lightweight champion. He will be smaller than Le but the Japanese fighter is used to facing bigger men.

Le is a big fan of his upcoming opponent and is prepared for a striking battle in Bangkok,

“I love his style. I love his mentality going into these fights. He’s pushing the action, he wants you to trade, he wants you to fire, he wants to be close so he can do what he does best which is let that right hand go.”

Thanh Le grapples with Yusup Saadulaev

Multiple weapons

However Le knows it’s not just Boku’s right hand he needs to watch out for,

“He’s got a left hook. He’s got a ton of things that he can throw that can put you out, so you can’t let the man get comfortable. You can’t let him sit back and fire off these powerful, possible one-shot knockouts.”

He finished Yusup Saadulaev at ONE: ‘For Honor’ and this represents a rapid turnaround for the former LFA 145lbs champion. He is happy to be competing twice in the space of four months,

“I would much prefer this way and I’m glad it’s happening. It’s really nice to be able to stay busy (as) I’m not 21 anymore, so staying busy and having fights back-to-back is a great feeling. It keeps you focused.”

Thanh Le winner

Proving ground

While Le is well aware of Boku’s attributes he is not short of confidence in his own ability. The 33 year old thinks the Japanese veteran might struggle to cope with his speed and accuracy,

“I just don’t think he’s fought anybody with my sniping capabilities. I think it’s going to be really surprising to him the change of speed and the things we’re going to implement.”

Le got his ONE Championship career off to the perfect start with the spectacular finish against Saadulaev. The initial signs suggest he could be a top contender in the featherweight division and that’s exactly what he’s aiming to do,

“I came to ONE (because) I want to prove my skill level and that I can be the best in the world.”