Thanh Le is happier than he has ever been in his professional career.
On the heels of his explosive debut back in May where he earned a jaw-dropping second-round knockout against Yusup Saadulaev, Le was not sure when he would be booked for his next bout.
The 33-year-old Vietnamese-American got the call to compete again a little more than three months later, and he was delighted to accept.
“I would much prefer this way, and I’m glad it’s happening,” Le says.
“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. It’s really nice to be able to stay busy. I’m not 21 [years old] anymore, so staying busy and having fights back-to-back is a great feeling. It keeps you focused.”
For his second bout in the ONE Circle, Le will face a veteran whose record is filled with World Champions and legends of the sport. Boku has faced the best of the best and is renowned for putting on thrilling matches every time he competes.
Le could not think of a better opponent for his next bout because the Japanese athlete will give him exactly the kind of challenge he wants as he tries to climb the ladder in the ONE featherweight division.
“I love his style. I love his mentality getting into these fights,” Le says.
“He’s pushing the action, he wants you to trade, he wants you to fire, he wants to be close so he can do what he does best, which is let that right hand go.
“He’s got a left hook. He’s got a ton of things that he can throw that can put you out, so you can’t let the man get comfortable. You can’t let him sit back and fire off these powerful, possible one-shot knockouts.
“It’s really cool getting that match-up. He’s a dangerous dude. He’s fought the top of our division. It’s all great things.”
Throughout his own career, Le has racked up plenty of highlight-reel finishes – he has eight KOs and one submission for a 100-percent finishing rate – but he knows there is an inherent danger when it comes time to throw fists with someone as experienced as Boku.
While he is ultra-confident in his skill set heading into this contest, Le knows he has to be wary not to underestimate the Japanese veteran, or he could be the one who pays in the end.
“There’s a thin line of sticking to the game plan and making sure we are disciplined,” the LFA Featherweight Champion adds.
“Just being relaxed and letting your tools go is really important. This man touches you, it’s dangerous. He lets guys close, which keeps him closer to his counter.
“I just don’t think he’s fought anybody with my sniping capabilities. I think it’s going to be really surprising to him the change of speed and the things we’re going to implement.”
A win at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD would put the 50/50 and MidCity MMA representative closer to his ultimate goal, which is to become the ONE Featherweight World Champion.
As much as he wants to compete for the gold, he knows he will have to earn the chance. That means he will not call out Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen immediately after a win, although he will be ready to face the weight class’ top dog if the challenge is offered to him.
“The thing I love about ONE, you can’t talk your way into a World Title fight,” Le says.
“You have to fight the good guys. You have to fight the gatekeepers or the guys on the next rung of the ladder. You have to fight the number one contenders.
“It’s really important to me to climb up that ladder and take every step that should be taken as somebody who is going to try to become World Champion and take the champion’s spot.
“So that’s the plan. Beat Boku, beat whoever they put in front of me next, beat whoever they put in front of me and if it happens to be Martin, that’s the next guy on my hit list.”