‘We Are Not Going To A Decision’ – Thanh Le Vows To Knock Out Ilya Freymanov In World Title Fight

Thanh Le stands in the Circle at ONE 160

The announcement that Thanh Le would face Ilya Freymanov for the ONE Interim Featherweight MMA World Title at ONE Fight Night 15 on Prime Video came like a bolt from the blue, but the Vietnamese-American wasn’t surprised.

Le figured he would meet the Russian phenom at some point, and with divisional king Tang Kai on the sidelines due to injury, the pair will meet in U.S. primetime this Friday, October 6.

While the 38-year-old would have preferred a little longer to formulate a plan for Freymanov, he’s happy to have a date locked down.

And even though he was originally scheduled to rematch Tang for the undisputed World Title earlier this year, the #1 contender is eagerly anticipating this opportunity to stay active and claim the interim crown.

Reflecting on the circumstances that led to his upcoming matchup, Le explained:

“You’ve got to keep the division going. You’ve got to keep the title fights going to keep everything moving. Because having it stale for a year plus is an issue for the company and for us [contenders] lingering at the top.

“Ilya’s name came up, and I knew that fight was eventually going to happen no matter what. Whether I beat Tang Kai and was champion, or maybe I had to work my way back, I knew it was going to happen.”

Freymanov increased the likelihood of a clash with one of the division’s top dogs when he registered his second impressive ONE victory over Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg in June.

The #3-ranked contender called out Le immediately after that first-round submission, but the former ONE Featherweight MMA World Champion was still expecting to face Tang at that point.

Still, Le understood the rising star’s desire to go after the big guns, and he’s expecting a tough test in their high-stakes showdown this week:

“Now, since it’s a title fight, Freymanov sees me as a way to get to the title, but even before that, he saw it as, ‘Hey, this dude was champion. I’ve gotta beat him and he’s going to get me to my dreams.’

“But this is everything I’ve worked for, and it’s obviously the most important thing to him too. So he’s going to get the best Thanh Le, I am guaranteed to get the best Ilya, and it’s going to make for fireworks.”

Le Excited For Firefight With Freymanov

Thanh Le respects Ilya Freymanov’s game and enjoys the element of danger he’ll be facing in Bangkok.

The Vietnamese-American has watched his upcoming rival blitz through former two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen and Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg, so he’s expecting a lot of intensity from the opening bell.

At the same time, he anticipates some cerebral work from Freymanov, mixing fight IQ with ferocity in their ONE Interim Featherweight MMA World Title contest.

Le said:

“He’s very good. He’s done some damage in the division, so that’s very appealing to me that he puts a hurting on people. He comes forward. He’s aggressive. He’s very skilled. So it’s really nice to get a name like that.

“I think it’s going to be a relatively quick and difficult fight. And I like that a lot. That’s what it says on paper, and that’s what my brain tells me, and that’s what I think his brain tells him based on some of the interviews I’ve heard.

“If he does happen to make a mistake or two and feel some of the power that I present, I don’t know that he’ll be as aggressive as normal, but I’m very excited to see how that reaction and his pivots and adjustments come into play.”

Despite his reverence for Freymanov, the former divisional king is confident in his ability to dispatch the Russian.

The New Orleans resident thinks his output will force his foe to change tactics – and that Freymanov’s response to pressure will dictate when a stoppage comes. Whatever the case, Le has no doubt the finish will happen before the judges are needed.

He added:

“I’ll give you a two-part prediction. I think if he comes out, feels a little bit of movement and power and doesn’t change his game plan, then it’ll be a first-rounder.

“If he is a smart fighter, if he makes his adjustments and doesn’t get put out early, I think it’s maybe a late third-round finish. But it’s going to be a finish.

“I say this every fight. And I was right, except for the last fight. That’s the first time I’ve ever gone to a decision. It was nasty. I didn’t like it. We are not going to a decision. I promise you this.”

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