Surgical Tang Kai Makes History After Masterful Performance Against Thanh Le

Tang Kai cradles the ONE Featherweight World Title

Tang Kai promised to make history the moment his bout with ONE Featherweight World Champion Thanh Le was announced, and he lived up to his words on Friday, August 26.

The 26-year-old became the first-ever male Chinese MMA World Champion, as he executed a masterful strategy to earn a unanimous decision victory and claim the ONE Featherweight World Title in the ONE 160 co-main event.

The game plan was obvious for the Sunkin International Fight Club representative in the first round, as he targeted the erstwhile World Champion’s legs with kicks and then skillfully moved away each time Le looked to engage. 

Le started the second round more aggressively, cutting off his opponent’s movement while throwing hooks. Tang, however, had an answer each time his foe moved forward. He responded with short hooks in the pocket and continued to target the Vietnamese-American’s legs.

Following a failed takedown attempt, Le connected with a solid left hook that sent Tang back, but he just couldn’t seem to capitalize on the slippery Chinese warrior. The challenger continued to move well and threw heavy kicks, including one that pushed Le down before the frame ended.

Le once again moved forward early in the third, but he ate a solid right hand and some more damaging leg kicks. Tang then displayed more of his hands, as he countered in the pocket and even sent the champion back with a huge right.

The Chinese fighter kept this up in the fourth stanza and dropped the 36-year-old with a left hook. Le eventually returned to his feet where he hunted for the takedown and threw an acrobatic kick, but Tang again avoided those shots.

Perhaps knowing the judges were favoring the challenger, Le took the middle of the Circle and looked to make a statement in the fifth and final round. But all he got was more leg kicks from the Chinese knockout artist.

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Le landed what could have been his best shot of the night late in the frame, as a left hook rocked Tang. The featherweight king followed up with massive looping punches, but that aggression was far too little and far too late, as Tang recovered well and moved out of harm’s way.

After the match, the judges awarded the victory and the gold to Tang, who improved his pro record to 15-2 and made Chinese MMA history.

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