Tang Kai wants access to the featherweight division’s biggest names, and he intends to run through his next opponent to get there.
The Chinese knockout artist will be aiming for his fifth straight victory on the global stage when he faces “The Big Heart” Yoon Chang Min in a mixed martial arts showdown at ONE: NEXTGEN II this Friday, 12 November.
Following his first-round knockout of Ryogo “Kaitai” Takahashi at ONE: FISTS OF FURY II in March, Tang believes he already deserves to be ranked alongside the best in the weight class, and he’s planning to prove it with another dominant finish.
“I think Takahashi is still a great fighter in Japan, so I thought I would be able to enter the top five after beating him,” he says.
“Maybe ONE Championship wants to give me more tests, let me KO more opponents, and then let me enter the ranking list.
“I want to knock out Yoon Chang Min and then compete against the top five athletes.”
Tang’s latest win improved his record to 4-0 in ONE Championship, with two spectacular stoppage wins. Takahashi was his toughest test to date, but the Sunkin International Fight Club man still dispatched him in less than two minutes.
For that reason, Tang expected to face a featherweight contender next – and he was less than pleased to receive this fight against “The Big Heart.” Still, he knows a victory is essential to achieving his dreams.
“I thought I should be matched up with a top-five fighter to compete against. I don’t know why I’m matched up against some unknown fighter,” Tang says.
“Because every bout is very important to me, I will try my best to win. It’s important to win every bout so that I can challenge for the golden belt [in the future].”
And though he has less experience than Tang, he has more wins in ONE, and all five of his promotional victories have come via finish.
This does not faze Tang, however. With a 12-2 professional record, he believes the South Korean can’t match his striking and will be out of his depth when they face each other.
“Because I haven’t lost in four years, he will be afraid of me,” Tang says.
“In my opinion, [Yoon] is just big and muscular, a bit like a bodybuilder. I think his [punches] must be very slow, but his strength is greater than mine. I will beat him with my agility, boxing, and speed.
“His speed is certainly not as fast as mine. My speed is the fastest in this division, so I am very confident I will KO him.”
Aside from striking, Yoon will bring a notable ground game into this contest. Four of his five stoppage wins have come via submission, but that aspect of his game doesn’t hamper the Shaoyang native’s confidence.
“If he wants to drag me to the ground, he must take me down first,” Tang says.
“I was born to practice wrestling. I won’t give him this chance. I think I will do a good job with my takedown defense and avoid grappling with him. Then I can win the match, 100 percent.”
While Tang is fully focused on Friday’s fight, his ultimate goal is much bigger. His sights are firmly set on the top prize, and all of the featherweight contenders are firmly in his crosshairs.
“I want to open their eyes and show them how I get into the top five. I want to KO Yoon in the second round,” Tang adds.
“Of course, after winning this fight, I really want to challenge [featherweight king] Thanh Le or [top contender Garry] Tonon. Any one of them, I’ll grab their belt.
“If [ONE] doesn’t give me the right to challenge the champion, at least give me [someone in] the top five.”