Thanh Le Vs. Tang Kai: 4 Keys To ONE Featherweight World Title Victory
The Vietnamese-American superstar will put his ONE Featherweight World Title on the line against Chinese striker Tang Kai on Friday, August 26, and it’s hard to predict how things will play out.
Both men have incredible knockout power – Le has knocked out five straight opponents, while Tang is riding a three-KO streak – but other factors could make all the difference when they square off for the belt.
Here are some of the biggest keys to victory for each man in this highly anticipated MMA battle at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
#1 Tang Closing The Distance
Tang is considered the more aggressive fighter in this matchup, and coming forward to shut down the reigning featherweight king is likely one of his key strategies.
Le likes to operate from a distance, and if the challenger can force him to fight at a closer range, then it could open up some avenues to success.
Taking notes from Le’s contest against former divisional king Martin Nguyen, Tang could push his rival back toward the Circle Wall and try to cut him off to land bombs while there are fewer escape routes.
And even though Le is elusive, the Chinese star might be able to get a better read on his patterns by mixing in feints with his power punches.
Tang certainly can’t be reckless, but he has good reflexes and head movements that can help keep him safe while he presses to attack.
#2 Le’s Devastating Back-Foot Counters
When it comes to attacking Le, every opponent must be wary of his killer instinct off the back foot.
The 50/50 and MidCity MMA representative likes to draw his foes in and remains calm under fire. When they advance, he has phenomenal vision that allows him to see an opening to counter.
As soon as a gap opens up, Le is accurate and ruthless. He has one-shot finishing power in his arsenal and rarely misses the mark.
For instance, Nguyen was having success backing him up in the third round of their World Title encounter, but it only took one gap – and one devastating right hand – to completely change the fight.
Even if Tang manages to evade a single counter, the Vietnamese-American’s blitzes mean there is usually something behind the first strike that could find a home.
#3 Tang Mixing It Up With His Wrestling
Although Tang has not showcased much of his wrestling ability in ONE Championship, he has excellent takedowns that could give Le more to think about.
Evading strikes that have the ability to separate you from your senses is one thing, but if the reigning king must consider a wrestling threat, too, it could stifle his counters.
The Chinese dynamo utilizes a strong double-leg takedown that could put his foe on the canvas, where he can work some ground-and-pound.
However, even if the 26-year-old can’t keep his opponent grounded – a strong possibility given Le’s defense and scrambling ability – he’d still be close enough to fire off heavy punches during transitions.
#4 Le’s Rarely Seen BJJ Black Belt Skills
Just as we haven’t witnessed much of Tang’s wrestling in the Circle, Le has not shown much of his grappling – but it’s definitely there for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
The 36-year-old used those skills defensively against both Garry Tonon and Yusup Saadulaev, showcasing immense knowledge to stay safe against two dangerous submission specialists. If Tang tries to mix it up on the ground, he could be in for some surprises.
Le recently stated that he wants to give fans a taste of his submission repertoire, and he should be well-prepared to attack on the ground after training with renowned grappler Ryan Hall at 50/50.
Even if it’s just enough to force a reaction from Tang, it could help the reigning featherweight king get back to his feet or into a better position.