“Rock Man” Chen Lei (8-0) has been unstoppable.
The 29-year-old Chinese juggernaut is undefeated in his mixed martial arts career, and has finished every athlete who has stood before him – including his past four opponents under the ONE Championship banner.
On Saturday, 8 September, he will try to make it nine in a row.
This bantamweight contest carries extra significance for Chen, beyond the match-up and the implications of victory.
For the first time in his tenure with the world’s largest martial arts organization, he will be competing in mainland China. Having the local contingent cheer him on will serve as a massive motivational boost for “Rock Man.”
“Before, I always competed in a foreign land,” he says.
“This time, the event is in Shanghai, so I am very excited. This is always what I dreamed of – competing in my home, on such a big international stage for an excellent fight.
“I am very confident, and I am well-prepared. I will give my best effort for all the people who support me.”
Undefeated "Rock Man" Chen Lei is on a roll!Download the ONE Super App now ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Chen has every right to be confident, because momentum is on his side.
The Chinese warrior, who trains out of Equilibrium Beijing, has yet to taste defeat, and he has been able to endure and overcome everything that has been thrown at him inside the ONE cage.
For a moment in the first round, it looked like he may lose his undefeated record, but he showed his mettle to rebound from an early scare.
Jasoor sent him to the mat with a powerful right hand, but “Rock Man” lived up to his moniker by displaying true grit. He survived and came back to score a third-round TKO, keeping his streak alive in dramatic fashion.
“Even though there was an unexpected moment, I made it through and achieved my goal,” Chen explains.
“I learned how to deal with the unexpected situation, how to be calm, and how to make it step-by-step until you get what you want.”
In Muhammad, he faces a similarly durable opponent, who has plenty of firepower, too.
The 23-year-old, who trains out of Bali MMA, pushes the pace, and can surprise opponents with his unorthodox style.
Chen respects what his Malaysian foe brings to the table, but he also sees a key weakness he can target.
“He is very competitive in this division,” says the man from Changsha.
“He has strong stand-up skills and good punches. He is flexible with all of his movements, he is fast, and has good body control, but I think he needs to improve his ground skills.”
Chen is confident his ground game will be more than enough to take care of the Malaysian.
Though he comes from a boxing and Muay Thai background, Chen has complimented his striking abilities with formidable grappling. In fact, he is a Shanghai Open BJJ Champion.
While the tricky “Jungle Cat” has many ways to cause his opponents issues, “Rock Man” has faith in his ability to press forward, impose his will, and put his name in the forefront of people’s minds when the top contenders in the division are considered.
“I am a very comprehensive fighter,” he says.
“I believe I will give him some pressure, and a lot of trouble. I know how to control the pace, and I will catch his weakness in a short time.
“After this, there will be more people that know me. I will fight my best, and ‘Rock Man’ will be remembered.”
Chen has the top of the bantamweight division in his sights, and a ninth consecutive win would keep him on the path to that lofty destination.
If the Chinese warrior can make a statement with a dominant and decisive victory, he may be propelled forward even faster than he had imagined.
Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast