Despite being only 19, Christian Lee is on the verge of world title contention
Singapore’s Christian “The Warrior” Lee has his sights set on the ONE Featherweight World Title, and plans on making a significant step towards championship contention when he steps back into the ONE Championship cage on 9 December.
Lee (7-1) takes on former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku (26-11-2) in a featherweight bout at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, which takes place at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
The young star says he’s ready to make an impact with victory over the former world champion.
“Boku is not a man to be taken lightly,” he said.
“He is a former world champion in the lightweight division, he dropped down to featherweight, and since then he has been on a tear,” Lee acknowledges.
“He has knocked out four of his last five opponents. In his last two matches, he finished Timofey [Nastyukhin] and Eric Kelly, and those were two top contenders in the division, so to think that his age is slowing him down would be a big mistake.
“He is older, he is aging, and he is slowing down, but he still has his power, his timing, and still is a dangerous martial artist. So I am going to be careful with my game plan, and just show him, and the rest of the world, that I am the future of this division.”
Aged just 19, Lee is learning his trade in the unforgiving surrounds of the ONE Championship cage, and received his first taste of defeat when he was submitted in the first round by two-weight ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
After that loss, Lee went back to the drawing board, and spent eight months away from the cage to mentally and physically hit the reset button on his career.
He returned to training with renewed enthusiasm, as he worked on his game at Singapore’s Evolve MMA and his family’s United MMA gym in Hawaii, where he learned to exercise more patience during his contests.
His new approach has been successful so far. He picked up victory over “The Werewolf” Wan Jian Ping in April this year, then followed up with a third-round submission victory over Malaysia’s Keanu Subba, in a thrilling contest that saw Lee tested by a strong opponent.
It was the first time Lee had gone past the first round in his young martial arts career.
“It was a great opportunity sharing the cage with him (Subba), because he is a fellow rising star in the division,” Lee said.
“I definitely felt like we were at a crossroads, where one person was going to jump to the front of title contention, and the other person was going to take the back road, so it was a very important match for me. I laid it all out on the line.
“The biggest thing I learned coming out of my match with Subba was just to remain composed, and to not let emotions come into play. That is something every young martial artist needs to learn as they transition into the upper level of the division.”
Lee’s preparations took an emotional hit when his sister, ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, was involved in a car crash in Hawaii. The accident forced her out of her scheduled title defence against Mei Yamaguchi in November.
The family rallied around Angela, making sure she was suitably recovered from the incident. Thankfully she sustained no significant injuries and was even able to attend the event in Singapore to make an emotional walk to the cage.
“Angela is doing much better,” the Singaporean featherweight said.
“It was a very traumatic incident and we were all shaken up, but we are just so grateful she is here with us today, and that she is healthy and recovering.”
Now, with Angela back at his side helping him prepare once again, Christan’s focus has returned to his bout with Boku as he looks to push himself towards title contention, and a possible rematch with the only man to defeat him, Nguyen.
“I feel my road to the title depends 100 per cent on this upcoming match with Boku,” he explained.
“Nothing happens till I get past him, and not just getting past him, but the fashion I do so.
“If I go out there and it is a three round war that goes to a decision, I might need to prove myself more. But if i go out there and do what I do best, which is take him out in devastating fashion, then who is next?
“There is Marat [Gafurov], Boku, [Narantungalag] Jadambaa, and me. Between those key players, I feel this is the determining match to see who is next in line for the featherweight world title shot.”
Lee is still early in his career, and he’s not rushing his progress. Instead, he’s simply enjoying every step and looking to improve as he continues on his quest for martial arts excellence.
“I am in a very good place in my life. I am very blessed and extremely grateful to be living out my dream,” he says. “I have a great family, a great girlfriend, and great gyms to train out of in Singapore and Hawaii. I feel like everything is coming together.”