For someone at 19 years of age, Christian “The Warrior” Lee has accomplished an incredible amount in his young life. The Singaporean is a six-time FILA world champion, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and a top featherweight contender in ONE Championship.
He has amassed a sparkling professional record of 8-1, and has wins over several high profile opponents, including his most recent highlight reel finish over former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku this past December. With that, he tied the record for most finishes in ONE history.
On Friday, 9 March, Lee draws another Japanese icon, as he clashes with two-division former DEEP Champion Kazunori Yokota at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY, which broadcasts live from the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“The Warrior” hopes to secure his third straight win, all while also adding another big name to his ever expanding resume.
“I think Kazunori Yokota is a great match-up. He is a seasoned veteran, similar to Boku. I feel he is actually very similar to Boku,” Lee states.
“He is not as threatening when you look at his record on paper, but he is fast, he is explosive, and I know when we get in there, he is going to be looking to take me out. I am not looking past him in any way, so I am going to go in there and take him out in the same fashion I did Boku.”
Back in December, Lee faced Boku, which was considered to be a battle amongst the featherweight division’s top contenders. He deployed a tactical striking game plan, before swooping in for a body lock takedown, and ultimately knocked out the former lightweight titleholder with a spectacular slam at the 3:24 mark of the opening stanza.
Lee admits that taking the match with Yokota was a dangerous proposition, considering he feels he is already close to a world title shot. That is not how Lee wants to approach his career, however, because through great risk comes even greater rewards, and that is what he continuously seeks.
“A lot of other athletes would not have even taken this bout,” Lee continues.
“I could have sat and waited, and the title shot could have been mine. But that is just not the type of person I am. I am not going to just sit and wait for something to come. When they offered me Kazunori Yokota, I took it in a heartbeat.”
Each contest also allows Lee to gain even more experience inside the cage, which is something he values even more after suffering the first, and only, blemish of his career in a crushing defeat to current ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Martin Nguyen in August 2016.
While a defeat will always plague an athlete, “The Warrior” also learned more about himself in that bout than perhaps anything he has taken away from his eight professional wins.
“I feel the biggest thing that I took away from that loss, it was a mental thing,” he explains.
“It was my sixth bout in, and I just turned 18 years old. I am only 19 years old now, but I feel years and years ahead, experience-wise, just coming off that loss.
“Just being able to step back and look at things from a different perspective, I really see in that bout I let emotions come into play. There is really no room for emotions in a contest. It is strictly business. Since then, I have been able to implement that into all of my bouts.”
That approach has led Lee to his recent three-bout win streak, and he hopes to carry that same momentum into his first contest of 2018. He is looking to stay busy so he can continue to gain valuable experience, but also to prevent getting mired in the obsession over earning a world title shot.
The Singaporean has seen championships act as both a blessing and a curse in the past, where athletes become so distracted by the gold that they fail to see what is directly in front of them.
In Lee’s case, he knows Yokota wants to jumpstart his own run, and perhaps his final run, in the featherweight division. That is why “The Warrior” is keeping his eyes on the real prize — a win at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY.
“A lot of people are impatient about chasing the title,” Lee says.
“With me, my thinking is if you want to be the best in the world, you are going to have to take out everyone anyway. So whoever they throw at you, you have to be prepared to face them and beat them.”