On Friday, 18 May, the knockout artist rallied back from an early scare to defeat South Korean grappler Sung Jong Lee at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in front of his countrymen at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The two engaged in a competitive lightweight bout, which saw Khan light up the NAGA No-Gi Grappling Champion and fend off his leg lock attempts in the opening stanza.
However, in the second round, Lee caught the young lion in a heel hook and came close to doing some real damage.
“It felt pretty tight,” the 23-year-old Singaporean admits.
“I felt like if he had gone a few extra inches, he would have broken my knee or something, but I stayed calm, because I knew it was slightly off.”
Khan’s calm temperament and grappling knowledge allowed him to escape the submission hold unscathed. From there, the Evolve MMA product catapulted a knee into his exhausted opponent’s sternum, and then threw hammer fists until referee Yuji Shimada stopped the contest at 3:39 of round two.
With the victory, the Singaporean extended his promotional record for most knockouts at eight, and is inspired to build upon his achievement.
“It motivates me,” he says. “Having the most knockouts in ONE Championship history is something to be proud of, but it just motivates me to keep knocking people out and maintain this streak.”
Khan is also motivated to work his way back into the ONE Lightweight World Title picture.
The roaring lion is currently recovering from the battle, but is looking to remain as active as possible. He is targeting a return to the cage in late July or mid August, and wants to challenge the division’s best competitors.
“I need to prove myself again, so I want to fight one of the top guys,” Khan says.
“I just do not want to fight somebody and not improve in my career. I want to beat someone who will get me closer to the title, because I want to get a world title match as soon as possible. I feel I am ready.
“Even though I just lost my fight against Timofey, I have looked past it. I already analyzed what I did wrong and I know what I have to do to carry on. I am sure if I faced Timofey in the future, I would beat him.”
While the Singaporean admits the weight class is stacked with top contenders such as Nastyukhin, Ev Ting, Shannon Wiratchai, and Ariel Sexton, all of whom he is willing to meet, there is one name in particular that interests him.
For Khan, the goal is to obtain the ONE Lightweight World Championship, and even though he stumbled in February, he believes the loss has not hurt his stock too much.
As a matter of fact, the Singaporean still feels he is on the cusp of a title opportunity, and realistically thinks it is possible he could challenge for the world championship before 2018 concludes.
“I feel if I get one or two more good wins, then I will be ready to face Martin [Nguyen] or whoever holds the lightweight belt,” Khan says. “I feel I can achieve that goal by the end of the year.