Thanh Le Has Some Surprises In Store For His ONE Championship Debut

Human highlight reel Thanh Le has come to ONE Championship to compete against the best mixed martial artists on the planet, and he got his wish for his debut at ONE: FOR HONOR.

Next Friday, 3 May, the Vietnamese-American will face Russian powerhouse Yusup Saadulaev, who will come into the contest on a five-match win streak, which includes three submission finishes.

Le is no stranger to a victory by stoppage, either. Every professional bout he has won ended inside the distance.

He has one submission, as well as seven knockouts via punches and a variety of spectacular kicks. If he can implement his most dangerous weapons at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia, the LFA Featherweight Champion will immediately become an exciting contender in The Home Of Martial Arts.

“ONE is on the same page [as me]. The way they look at me and the way they see potential, they want to put me in there and see what I’ve got,” Le says.

“They want to test me, and they want to showcase my skills. That’s what I want for myself. I want the best guys. I want the so-called tough match-ups, bad match-ups – whatever you want to call them.

“That’s what I welcome because the whole point of being in this is proving that I can be the best guy. I can be the best in the world, and I’m past that prospect level. I’m at that level where I need to fight the top guys.”

Short of competing for a World Title in his first match, there are few tougher opponents on the global stage for martial arts than Saadulaev.

The 34-year-old is a dominant grappler who snatched 11 of his 17 wins by submission. He also has formidable boxing, and the ability to grind hard for 15 minutes to clinch a decision by a wide margin.

“He’s a good fighter. He’ll definitely look to get the fight to the ground, and he’s got some power in his hands,” Le says.

“He’s a well-rounded fighter. He definitely wants to be on top and pass so he can get into dangerous positions where he can look for the submission.”

On the flipside, Le is best known for his dynamic striking attack – honed since he was an infant through taekwondo training. His technical ability and creativity keep his opponents guessing in the ring, and often leads to a KO.

On paper, this is a classic striker-versus-grappler showdown, but as much as he would love a knockout in his ONE debut, Le is looking forward to showing off different aspects of his game.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of grapplers, both in my amateur and my professional career, where their main goal is to get me to the ground and try to capitalize there,” Le explains.

“I feel so comfortable with my overall skills as a martial artist now that we’re going to be able to do damage on the feet, and if or when that fight gets to the ground, whether by his choice or mine, we’re going to showcase some skills that haven’t been showcased before.

“In a perfect world, we stand up, we’re striking, I’m taking advantage of him on the feet, and then we hit the ground, and I show the world some stuff that they haven’t seen from Thanh Le before.

“I’m excited to go up on the feet and down on the ground as well.”

That is not the only thing that has the 33-year-old itching to make his bow in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

As a child of a traditional martial arts upbringing by his father, Le prefers a respectful way of approaching the sport, and he could not be happier to join a company that is built on a foundation of values that match his.

“That’s a big piece of it,” Le says about why he joined ONE.

“Whether the other guy trash talks or not, that doesn’t affect me too much, but martial arts is about respect. It’s about self-improvement. It’s about showing the good in people, reaching your full potential, and being the best martial artist you can be.

“I think ONE embodies all of those aspects. It’s less of a pro wrestling show, and more of a display of martial arts skill and it’s a great thing to be happening in the mixed martial arts world.”