Christian Lee is back at the top of the lightweight world and he has done so through his mastery of mixed martial arts.
The Singapore-American star succeeded in taking full control of Ok Rae Yoon to reclaim the ONE lightweight title at ONE 160, thus beginning his second reign with the gold belt.
Lee didn’t pull any punches when he faced Hassan in a rematch and he showed the trademark aggression he’s known for in his fights. However, ‘The Warrior’ definitely took it to a point. Lee’s dominance was at such an unstoppable pace that the referee had no other choice but to stop the fight just seconds into the second round to save Ok from further harm.
At just 24 years old, Lee is already starting a legendary race that only a select few in the sport have achieved. The United MMA star became the world lightweight champion for the first time when he was just 20 years old, defeating Japanese icon Shinya Aoki at ONE: Enter the Dragon in May 2019.
Of his four world title victories, none have gone past the second round, with all four ending by knockouts in a highlight reel over Aoki, Iori Lapikos, Timofey Nastyukhin and, most recently, Well.
He also took home the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix when he defeated Dagi Arslanaliev in the middle of his first world title.
Christian Lee has practically swept the first generation of the Lightweight Elite in one tournament and can continue his reign through the next. Having said that, there are three opponents who are likely to be next in The Warrior.
# 3. Christian Lee vs. Lee Daji Arsanalev
Dagi Arslanaliev was on the brink of mixed martial arts glory, but he faced Christian Lee. Arslanaliev and Lee met in the final of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix and the two light fighters set up an instant classic.
Lee, who was already the world lightweight champion at the time, took charge of facing Arslanaliev in the final round, replacing injured Eddie Alvarez at short notice.
Despite losing to Lee, Arslanaliev remains one of the lightest heavyweights, with his eight ONE Championship victories ending in either a knockout or a knockout.
Since then, Arslanaliev, the No. 2 ranked lightweight contender, has come back from losing to Lee and sending off Timofey Nastyukhin in one match: Winter Warriors in December 2021.
The two lightweight contenders fought the war during their match but it eventually became clear that Arslanaliev was the better man. With his opponent’s energy slowly fading away, Arslanaliev scored Nastyukhin using his right hands before ending the fight on the canvas a minute into the third round.
#2. Christian Lee vs. Saigid Isagakhmayev
The ONE Championship’s lightweight division is full of killers and one of them felt his presence on his debut with the promotion.
Saigd Isagakhmayev is a protagonist of mixed martial arts legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, and the Russian brawl is nothing short of a frightening physical strength in the circuit.
Isagakhmaev beat James Nakashima on his debut in January 2022, eventually winning the second round. It was a one-sided domination from start to finish.
Christian Lee is no stranger to the fighting game, but Izagakhmaev presents an entirely different threat to the lightweight king. The Warrior has never faced anyone with Izagakhmaev’s wrestling pedigree and that alone is enough to create an interesting match for Lee.
Plus, with Khabib in Izagakhmaev’s corner, a man Lee swore he could beat not too long ago, that adds up to an interesting dynamic to the fight.
#1. Christian Lee vs. Eddie Alvarez
Christian Lee is arguably the best lightweight on the planet. So why not compare him to one of the greatest weightlifters of all time and another man who remains one of the greatest fighters of the last generation?
The showdown between Lee and American MMA legend Eddie Alvarez has all the makings of a “torch-passing” moment between two super talents. It’s also been a long time coming.
Lee is only 24 years old and although he has already accomplished a lot in his career, he has yet to reach the peak of his athletic fitness. Alvarez, who is 14 years older to me, remains one of the most prominent names in the sport and one of the most respected fighters of all time.
Alvarez remains the only person to win world titles in Bellator and UFC. While he has yet to win the ONE World Lightweight Championship, ‘The Underground King’ is fully capable of winning the Gold Belt before he officially hangs the gloves.
However, a series of unfortunate setbacks suppressed Alvarez’s pursuit of the belt. But with the division almost finished, Lee might see it in his best interest to confront the ancient legend before time runs out.