Not since the Gracie’s has there been a more accomplished family in Mixed Martial Arts. ONE Championship’s Lee siblings, both got world championships. At ONE: Revolution, 24th of September, 23-Year-old Christian “The Warrior” Lee defends his belt and legacy against OK Rae Yoon.
For such a young man, Lee is under tremendous pressure because not only is he the Lightweight World Champion, but instills in this defense is living up to his legacy and dominance in the division. Lee currently holds the record for most wins in the promotion (15), most finishes (14), and knockouts (10).
Amazingly showing maturity and skill well beyond his years, Lee has taken all of the above in his stride. He has not just passed every test, he has thrived and dominated. He has finished his last two top-five opponents within the first round of their contest. With a victory here, Lee will have cleared out the top five contenders of the division and add to his record-breaking legacy.
Even though OK had 15 victories before entering ONE Championship, OK appeared with little fanfare. He was given high-level opponents and has more than earned this bout with victories over two world champions from different organizations. With all these accolades and stats, it would be easy for Lee to look past Yoon, like former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva did against Chris Wiedman or former women’s UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey did against Holly Holm. Both of these former champions were thought of as unbeatable until they were defeated. I am sure that OK would like this to be the case for him as well. However, Lee has also recognized this and in a recent interview said:
I think the biggest mistake that Marat and Eddie both made when they were facing OK is that they underestimated him. I feel that they both sort of looked past him. They thought that it was going to be an easy matchup for them, and Ok is a tough guy. We saw it firsthand in those two fights.
When asked how Lee saw the match going:
In this matchup against OK, I’m fully prepared to go five hard rounds with him. I’m prepared to go the distance because he’s a resilient guy. He’s a tough fighter, and I think his best strength is his resilience, his toughness. But if everything goes according to plan, I plan on taking this guy out in the first round. [I plan on] taking him down quick and submitting him.
In previous matches OK has displayed great takedown defense. In his most recent fight against Eddie Alvarez, Eddie had a lot of success using his wrestling, but OK kept popping right back up, though OK was visibly tired by the end of the second and the start of the third round.
Some points that will factor into the outcome
- This is a 5 round fight. Although both men have gone that distance before, it has been a long time since they went there. Three years for Lee and just over 2 years for OK. OK has had more cage time in recent fights, going the 3 round distance in his last three.
- OK was physically bigger than Alvarez, this might have helped in his takedown defence and being able to pop right back up. Neither man will have a huge advantage in the size department.
- Lee is a different type of grappler than Alvarez. He looks more for submissions but is not adverse to mixing in ground and pound to create an opening. Can OK’s takedown defence stay standing against Lee’s pressure?
- Lee is a very precise striker and likes to come forward with pressure over aggression. OK likes to counter strike. This could work well for OK or completely overwhelm him.
- Lee is very well rounded and can take the fight anywhere. It is his ability to dictate where the fight takes place that is his biggest strength.
- OK is coming in with little or now expectations on him, Lee is coming with immense pressure. However Lee thrives on this.
This is a great main event to a stacked card. This fight will have huge implications for the division. Should OK get the victory, unless it was a dominant stoppage or a very one-sided decision, Lee would get an instant rematch. If Lee wins, he has expressed interest in moving up a weight class to challenge ONE Welterweight Champion Kiamrian Abbasov.
With this victory and Lee’s body of work, he will jump the line to the front of the division. The only fighter left at Lightweight for Lee is Alvarez, but he needs to win a fight before this fight can be made. Would Lee be willing to wait or take on another opponent in the meantime?
Featured Image Credits to ONE Championship