Christian Lee has returned to the top of the lightweight world and he has done it through his mastery of mixed martial arts.
The Singapore-American superstar has completely eliminated Ok Rae Yoon’s dominance to regain the ONE world lightweight title at ONE 160, thereby starting his second reign with a gold strap.
Lee no punches when he took on Ok in their rematch and displayed the signature aggression he’s known for in his battles. That being said, ‘The Warrior’ definitely raised it up a notch. Lee’s dominance came at such an unstoppable pace that the referee had no choice but to pause the game for just a few seconds in the second half to save Ok from further harm.
At just 24 years old, Lee already has a legendary run that only a handful of people in the sport have achieved. The United MMA star became the ONE lightweight world champion for the first time at the age of 20, defeating Japanese icon Shinya Aoki at ONE: Enter the Dragon in May 2019.
Of his four world championship wins, none have made it past the second round, with all four ending in standout knocks by Aoki, Iuri Lapicus, Timofey Nastyukhin and most recently Ok.
He also won the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship defeating Dagi Arslanaliev in the middle of his first world title reign.
Christian Lee reality swept through the first generation of elite lightweight athletes in ONE Championship and could continue his reign until the next. That said, here are three possible contenders for ‘The Warrior’.
#3. Christian Lee and Dagi Arslanaliev
Dagi Arslanaliev was on the cusp of mixed martial arts glory, but then clashed with Christian Lee. Arslanaliev and Lee met in the final of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix and the two lightweight assassins created an instant classic.
Lee, who was already ONE lightweight world champion at the time, took charge of facing Arslanaliev in the final round, replacing the injured Eddie Alvarez shortly.
Despite the loss to Lee, Arslanaliev remains one of the deadliest lightweight athletes, with all eight of his wins in the ONE Championship ending in either knockout or knockout.
Arslanaliev, the #2 lightweight contender, is back from losing to Lee and knocking out Timofey Nastyukhin at ONE: Winter Warriors in December 2021.
Two light opponents fought in their match but in the end it was clear that Arslanaliev was the one who excelled. As his opponent’s energy was slowly fading, Arslanaliev took out Nastyukhin with a couple of right hands before finishing the match on the frame just a minute into the third round.
#2. Christian Lee and Saygid Izagakhmaev
ONE Championship’s lightweight division is filled with killers and one of them made him feel his presence in just his debut with promotions.
Saygid Izagakhmaev is the treasure of mixed martial arts legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, and the Russian boxer has no shortage of fearsome physicality in the circle.
Izagakhmaev defeated James Nakashima on his debut in January 2022, eventually winning the second round. It’s one-way domination from start to finish.
Christian Lee is no stranger to fighting games, but Izagakhmaev presents an entirely different threat to the lightweight king. ‘The Warrior’ has never faced anyone with Izagakhmaev’s wrestling background and that alone is enough to make for an intriguing matchup for Lee.
Plus, with Khabib in the corner of Izagakhmaev, someone Lee swore he would defeat not too long ago, it adds an interesting dynamic to the fight.
#1. Christian Lee and Eddie Alvarez
Christian Lee is said to be the lightest person on the planet. So why not make a match between him and one of the lightest of all time and a man who is the last man left from the greatest warriors of the previous generation?
The match between Lee and the American MMA legend Eddie Alvarez has everything that makes up the “torch passing” moment between two transcendent talents. It has also been a long time.
Lee is only 24 years old and although he has achieved a lot in his career, he has yet to reach his sporting peak. Alvarez, who is 14 years older than Lee, remains one of the sport’s top names and one of the most respected boxers of all time.
Alvarez remains the only person to win world titles at Bellator and the UFC. While he has yet to win the ONE lightweight world title, ‘The Underground King’ is fully capable of winning a gold medal before he officially hangs up his gloves.
However, an unfortunate series of failures prevented Alvarez from pursuing the belt. But with a full split, Lee may find it in his best interest to take on the aging legend before time runs out.