A confident Thanh Le strutted to the Circle with his ONE Featherweight World Title belt not far behind, and after just 56 seconds of action, he extended his reign atop the throne.
In a wild turn of events, the Vietnamese-American knocked out #2-ranked contender Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon to retain his gold in the headline fight of ONE: LIGHTS OUT on 11 March at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The KO concluded a classic matchup of striker versus grappler, as the fifth-degree taekwondo black belt handed the multiple-time BJJ World Champion his first loss in mixed martial arts.
When the opening round began, Tonon fed a triplet of high kicks to Le – who took the bait.
The defending titleholder scooped a leg on the last kick, which gave Tonon a chance to close the distance and pull guard – right where he wanted to be.
Le tried to punch his way out as “The Lion Killer” searched for an Ashi Gorami leg lace. Once the men settled, though, the champ found himself defending a heel hook, which he pried off before dropping a hammerfist on Tonon’s face.
The 50/50 and MidCity MMA man followed that up with two right hands – the last one seemingly hurting the challenger. But for good measure, Le dropped three more rights as Tonon went limp, and the referee jumped in to stop the bout.
Le’s first World Title defense improved his overall record to 13-3 and further elevated the allure surrounding the featherweight division’s most dangerous striker.
And while he will continue to take on challengers in the weight class, the Vietnamese-American star also expressed interest in moving up to compete for a second belt.