Christian Lee became a two-division World Champion at ONE on Prime Video 4, but it was not an easy night at the office. The ONE Lightweight World Champion was moving up to welterweight to battle Kiamrian Abbasov and was nearly finished in the first round. Surviving until the bell sounded, Lee went to his corner and regrouped.
Lee would begin to take control of the bout once he regained his composure. A barrage of elbows and punches in the fourth round would force the referee to stop the bout and award Lee the ONE Welterweight World Championship. Although he captured the gold, the Hawaii-based athlete feels he could have done much better in his performance.
“But of course, looking back, I still feel like I could’ve done much better in that fight. I feel like if I was fighting at my full potential that night, I could’ve finished him in the first round, but I had that early knockdown by Abbasov that set me back a little bit. It turned the fight into a war, which I was prepared for anyway,” Lee told ONE Championship.
According to the newly-minted double champion, the most essential aspect of the match was his mental toughness. It is a toughness that is ingrained within him because of his time as a champion and training for those championship rounds. The hard work allowed him to overcome adversity and pushed him into rarified air.
“Being in the championship rounds is something different. It takes the training, having the cardio to push through when time comes down to it. But it also takes a tremendous amount of mental strength to just not give yourself any second to doubt your cardio, to not even take a second to overanalyze the fight. You just have to go on pure instincts and pure training,” said Lee.
“So, when it came down to those championship rounds, it was everything that I’ve done in the training room just kicking in and taking over. Because when you’re that exhausted – and in my case having gotten knocked down in the first round – there’s not so much thinking going on.”
Becoming a two-weight World Champion was always part of the plan for Lee. He attempted to grab the ONE Featherweight World Title earlier in his career, but he was not able to capture the gold. As he matured and developed into a better athlete, he ascended to the top of the lightweight division with a win over Shinya Aoki.
Those growing experiences helped him to defeat Abbasov and stand atop two divisions. But now comes the hard part. Lee has to defend the belts against an ever-increasing list of hungry challengers. But as 2023 nears, Lee knows who is coming for his titles, and he does not care who is first on the list.
“I feel like it’s really clear who the next opponents are in front of me. I think that out of everybody, the three people I’m looking forward to fighting would be [lightweight] Saygid Izagakhmaev, [welterweight] Murad Ramazanov, and [weltwerweight] Roberto Soldic,” said Lee.