Christian “The Warrior” Lee (9-2) does not like to lose, but he looks at a defeat as an opportunity to learn, and a chance to transform into a better martial artist.
At ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in May the Singaporean failed to take the ONE Featherweight World Championship from the only man to ever defeat him in the cage – reigning titleholder Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen. He fell on the wrong side of a split decision.
It was a heartbreaking moment for Lee, but he refused to get mired in defeat. Instead, he views the experience as one of the most important lessons he has learned since first exploding onto the scene two and a half years ago.
“I learned a lot in my last fight,” he says.
“I feel like it has helped me to realize that I still have a lot of work to do. It helped me to realize that I need to train even harder to finish every opponent I face.
“It is never a good time losing a fight, but I am not going to sit here and dwell on it. The only thing I can do is get up, get back to the gym, and work hard for the next one.”
Following a brief week to enjoy Singapore, Lee returned to United MMA in Waipahu, Hawaii, where he has since cultivated his talent and further developed his vast skills.
Now, he is ready to make an epic return, and he is eager to display his new-and-improved finishing repertoire.
Both competitors share quite a few similarities.
Kelly, like Lee, has put away every opponent he has defeated since joining ONE Championship.
In addition to that, the Filipino is highly motivated to get back into the win column, too. He experienced a setback in June, when former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa defeated him in a riveting clash at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER.
Lee has watched his rival climb the ranks in recent years, thanks to his fierce wushu striking, credible grappling, and killer instinct.
While the pair share a couple of common traits, the Singaporean believes his overall skill set will be too much for Kelly to handle.
“I have been following Edward’s career for some time. I respect him as a person, and as a fighter,” Lee says.
“The most dangerous part about fighting a guy like Edward is that he is always looking for the finish. Whether it is on the feet or on the ground, if you give him the opportunity for him to finish the fight, he will.
“I feel my biggest advantage over Edward is that I am deeper in every area of the game. With all due respect to Edward, I feel that I am a better fighter everywhere. I want to go out there and impress the fans, and put my name right back into title contention.”
Also, this match-up will pit the top featherweights from two of the best gyms in the world against each other.
But ultimately, none of those awards, accolades, nor teammates will step into the ONE cage with them on 8 September.
“I have a lot of respect for Team Lakay,” Lee explains.
“They are all great people, as well as great fighters. They train extremely hard, and I feel like their work ethic is why they have gone so far and why they produce so many champions.
”It is great that Edward is from a great team, and it is great that I am from a great team. But at the end of the day, it is two men stepping into the cage together. It does not matter where he comes from, and it does not matter where I come from.
“When the cage door shuts, it is just going to be me and him.”
Once the bell rings, Lee will incorporate the lesson he learned two months ago, and try to get back to his finishing ways.
Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast