‘He’s In Trouble This Time’ – Thanh Le Vows To Finish Tang Kai In World Title Rematch At ONE 166: Qatar

Thanh Le Ilya Freymanov ONE Fight Night 15 45

Thanh Le has been waiting for a shot at redemption against Tang Kai since August 2022, and they will finally lock horns for the second time at ONE 166: Qatar on Friday, March 1

In their first encounter at ONE 160, Tang defeated the Vietnamese-American to win the ONE Featherweight MMA World Title. Now the interim titleholder, Le wants to unify the gold with revenge over his rival at the Lusail Sports Arena.  

However, Le won’t be fueled by emotion in this high-stakes rematch.

The former undisputed king has looked back on the previous World Title showdown rationally in order to take important lessons from the loss and improve himself as a mixed martial artist. 

He told onefc.com:

“I think the last fight was a good combination of a really great and well-prepared game plan from Tang and his team and probably the worst performance and decision-making that I’ve made in a really, really long time. 

“That was partly because of the things he was doing, so it’s not like I’m trying to take away from the things that he did well. I’m just trying to paint the true picture that it was a perfect storm for him to win that belt, and he ended up doing it. 

“Those things happen sometimes, and you’ve gotta roll with the punches. You’ve gotta get better. And that’s what I did.” 

Injuries have kept the Tang out of action since he earned that unanimous decision over five rounds to become the ONE Featherweight MMA World Champion. Although it’s been frustrating for Le to wait for this opportunity, he’s used the extra time to level up

As well as submitting Ilya Freymanov to win the ONE Interim Featherweight MMA World Title last October, he’s been working hard to engineer a game plan that will lead to a different result.

Now 18 months into that task, Le is confident he can regain the belt from the Chinese striker in Qatar:

“The rematch is long overdue. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but it did. The bad part for him is that we had more time to make sure that we sharpened up this game plan. It’s going to be a completely different-looking fight. I’m so excited to be able to show this to my team, my coaches, my family, and the fans out there what should have happened the first time. 

“We had a lot of time to get a nice fight in between, sharpen a bunch of skills, and get some specific game plan stuff implemented. I really can’t mess those things up because we’ve done them so much now. He’s in trouble, man. He’s in trouble this time.” 

‘He’s Going To Sleep Early’

Thanh Le went the distance for the first time in his career when he lost the ONE Featherweight MMA World Title to Tang Kai, but he’s adamant that won’t happen again.  

The Louisana native holds a 14-3 professional record and has finished every one of his victories. Meanwhile, Tang is a feared knockout artist in his own right and has finished the bulk of his 15 wins via KO.

But while both strikers have the power to end this matchup instantly, Le only sees it going one way:

“It’s going to be a finish. I’m not doing another decision in my entire career. Whether he was happy with it or not – I’m sure he was because he ended up getting a belt that night – that’s not happening again. We’re going to come in hot, press the action, and he’s gonna feel my power early.  

“I’ll be honest with you. If we make it out of the first round, I’ll be surprised. He’s going to sleep, and he’s going to sleep early.” 

This rematch has been the primary motivation for Le throughout the past year and a half, and he can’t wait to finally showcase the adaptations he’s made to flip the script.

It will be a weight off his shoulders, but until the job is done and the undisputed gold is back in his hands, the veteran won’t allow himself to be distracted or consider his next opponent.

Le added: 

“I don’t know what’s next, but I’m 38, so I’m older, towards the end of my career, so it’s gotta be exciting, and it’s gotta take care of me and my family, or I’m not doing it, honestly. 

“It’s something that I haven’t thought about because Tang is so important to me and I’m not in a position to call any shots because I need to get my belt back.  

“So, let’s get my belt back, and immediately, my brain will start working on that question before I leave the ring. I promise you. But we’ve got to go beat this man up, KO him, and then we’ll talk about it.” 

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