Thanh Le has reached the top of the mixed martial arts world with 12 knockouts in 13 victories, but he’s more than just an elite striker.
The ONE Featherweight World Champion – who will defend his belt against #1-ranked Tang Kai in the co-main event of ONE 160: Ok vs. Lee II on August 26 – earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in June, proving he’s also plenty dangerous on the ground.
That promotion came from his longtime coach and renowned grappler, Ryan Hall, and Le says he’s come a long way since beginning his MMA career as a stand-up specialist.
“You can’t fight without knowing jiu-jitsu – you’re just going to get mauled. [When I started, I was] like, ‘Okay, let’s learn this art, this thing that people want us to do.’ And then, just like I knew I would, I fell in love with it because it’s a wonderful martial art.”
These days, the Vietnamese-American has become just as passionate about submissions as he is about striking.
And although he hasn’t had many chances to showcase his BJJ black belt in the Circle, he certainly intends to soon.
In fact, Le thinks his upcoming World Title showdown with Tang at the Singapore Indoor Stadium could be the opportunity he’s been waiting for.
The featherweight king said:
“Obviously, I’m a striker dude in the cage, but I’m a jiu-jitsu guy, too.
“The last two fights that I’ve had in ONE were for the belt so I definitely hung my hat on my strong suit to try to capitalize there. And the last matchup was against one of the best grapplers on the planet (Garry Tonon). It might not be the best situation to dive into grappling with him the entire fight, right?
“But who knows, maybe we get a little grappling in on this fight. Let’s see [Tang] throw one of those double-legs, and see how it ends up for him.”
Thanh Le Open To Submission Grappling Match Against BJJ Star
With such a high-level striking pedigree, it’s hardly surprising that ONE Featherweight World Champion Thanh Le relies on his potent stand-up skills to get the job in MMA.
However, with ONE recently bringing submission grappling matches back to its fight cards, the 36-year-old would love an opportunity to display his BJJ black belt skills under that rule set.
It’s something Le is open to trying, and he wouldn’t be afraid to dive right in against the elite.
“Yeah, sign me up for a grappling match with somebody. That’d be a lot of fun. We get this next fight knocked out, maybe we have a little time after that. Sign me up.
“It can be one of [the Ruotolo brothers]. It can be anybody. I think it would be fun. I think it would be a good experience for me, and then you guys get to see a little bit of that grappling. That’d be cool, too.”