Christian Lee suggests another lightweight tournament

Christian Lee suggests another lightweight tournament after he clears out division.

At the ripe age of 23, Christian Lee has already been in his fair share of high profile fights. Lee has been with ONE Championship since his professional mixed martial arts debut back in 2015, a bout which took him just 29 seconds to end via knockout.

He would immediately build on his jaw-dropping debut, embarking on a five-fight winning streak which saw each and every opponent put away before the end of the first round. At that point it became clear that Lee was a star in the making, receiving a title shot after winning four of his next five scraps and improving his overall record to 9-1.

Although Lee would falter in his initial shot at capturing gold, he would quickly rebound and become ONE Lightweight World Champion in 2019 by defeating the legendary Shinya Aoki.

Since then, Lee has defended his belt twice and won a tournament championship bout opposite a dangerous Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev. His title defenses came at the expense of Iuri Lapicus of Italy by way of Moldova, and Timofey Nasyukhin of Russia. Those names plus the aforementioned Aoki comprise four of the lightweight division’s current top five contenders, leaving Ok Rae Yoon as the sole athlete Lee has yet to face.

“Right now the guy I want to fight right now is Ok Rae Yoon, in my opinion he’s the only guy deserving of a title shot, and so he’s the guy I want to fight,” Lee said when discussing his future options, should he defeat Ok. “Other than that, the lightweight division is pretty much empty.”

It’s hard to disagree with Lee’s assessment of the division. Currently, the top five—outside of Ok—provide only rematches for opponents that have already failed to capture Lee’s gold.

So, what comes next?

Having already won the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix in 2019, Lee expressed interest in staging another one, with no clear next contender down the line. Devising a tournament to identify his next opponent, after the penultimate matchup with Ok is a “good idea,” Lee said.

“It would draw a lot of attention to the lightweight division. After Ok Rae Yoon there’s no one left in line for the lightweight title, there’s no one left for me to defend my belt against. I think it would be interesting for the division, and it would be a good way to find the true number one contender.”

In addition to determining who is most deserving of a rematch, the Grand Prix format also lends itself to familiar faces, names like Eddie Alvarez, whose desired matchup with Lee has yet to come to fruition. Or even a promotional newcomer like Lipeng Zhang who defeated a former champion in Eduard Folayang in his ONE debut.

Regardless of who Lee’s next opponent will be—should he defeat Ok—a tournament seems to be the most fan and matchmaker friendly option.

Lee will take on South Korea’s Ok Rae Yoon on September 24 in the main event of ONE: REVOLUTION. The bout will take place live at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.