Thanh Le: 2020 ONE Championship Fighter of the Year

Thanh Le

As the 2020 chapter has been closed on ONE Championship, looking back on all of the year’s action puts one match, one knockout, one performance center stage – Thanh Le‘s ONE Featherweight World Championship victory over Martin Nguyen.

Thanh Le is ONE Championship Fighter of the Year

ONE: Inside The Matrix was the event. In the company’s return to Singapore, with strict COVID-19 protocols in place, the epic event came off without a hitch, and the four World Championship bouts thrilled a global audience.

Reinier “The Dutch Knight” De Ridder upset Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang. Christian “The Warrior” Lee had a lightning-quick battle with Iuri Lapicus. “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan held on to her gold against Tiffany “No Chill” Teo.

But the fourth title tilt was something truly special.

“The Situ-Asian” had reigned over the featherweight division since 2017 and put on some of the most memorable performances inside the ONE Championship Circle. Le came in with a perfect 100% finishing rate with three highlight-reel knockouts since joining the promotion. Everything pointed to this battle being non-stop excitement.

And it did not disappoint.

The Vietnamese-American was on point from the opening bell. Le moved efficiently and peppered Nguyen with strikes. The effective striking continued in the second round, but the Vietnamese-Australian began to find his range and timing as well.

As the third got underway, Nguyen looked to be getting into a rhythm and finding more success. As the championship rounds neared, he could have taken control of the action and turned the tides firmly in his favor.

However, the stylistic matchup of aggressive athletes with KO power was never going to let it get to the scorecards.

Le saw the opening and uncorked a short, powerful right hand. Seeing his opponent stunned by the connection, Le turned up the dial on his output. He continued to clip Nguyen, but the action got wild with both men trying to find their footing. Le still had his wits about him and found a home for an uppercut to finally sit Nguyen down for good as the frantic pace ended with a new champion.

After the global pandemic created delays, quarantines, and general uncertainty throughout the sport, this match gave fans everything they were missing in mixed martial arts. Two warriors going toe-to-toe for a World Championship.

Thanh Le, the new ONE Featherweight World Champion, showed his technical prowess as well as his heart. He responded to the championship pressure and got one of the year’s most memorable knockouts in a star-making showcase.

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