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Christian Lee excited to return at ONE: Kings of Destiny

Christian Lee (5-1-0) has waited eight months to avenge the only blemish on his record at ONE: Kings of Destiny April 21. And at this point, it doesn’t really matter that original opponent Keanu Subba (5-2-0) pulled out late with an injury; his replacement, Wan Jian Ping of China (2-1-0), will do just fine.

Lee suffered a first-round submission stoppage to Martin Nguyen at ONE Championship 45: Heroes of the World in August 2016. He admitted the loss was painful, not only for him, but for his family.

“It was pretty devastating,” Lee said on the phone from Hawaii to MMA Crossfire. “Immediately, I got back home and jumped right back into hard training. I was training 2-3 times a day and I just was hungry to close every single gap that there ever was in my game.”

“My whole family was shook up,” Lee added. “We are an extremely close family and so I can’t imagine it was easy for them watching that last fight. But, we focus more on the positives, focusing on the road back to victory than dwelling on the last previous loss.”

Lee, 18, was hoping make a quick turnaround, as early as January. It turned out the call for Kings of Destiny came six weeks out.

In the meantime, he’s watched carefully as his sister Angela Lee (7-0-0) blossomed into the ONE female atomweight champion.

“I am extremely proud of her performances,” Lee said. “You can really see how much her experience came into play in the second (Jenny Huang) fight compared to the first (Mei Yamaguchi). It’s about going in there and owning the fight before it’s even won. Going in there with that mindset that you’re already the champ, every fight.”

Angela and Dad will be in Lee’s corner April 21, with the rest of the family watching closely from afar, as “The Warrior” returns to Manila, the city where he made his professional debut.

“I love the crowd, the environment and I’m excited to go back,” Lee said. “It was definitely a great experience the last time I fought there.”

Lee’s goal is no secret: The ONE Championship featherweight title, currently held by Marat Gafurov. But when asked what it is like to be young and successful, he put fighting into its proper perspective.

“It’s a beautiful thing and I’ve very grateful to be in the position that I’m at where I can actually go out and live my dream every single day,” Lee explained. “It’s not an easy career being an MMA fighter, so it’s something you really have to truly love and be passionate about if you’re going to succeed in this game.”

The focus now turns to replacement Wan Jian Ping April 21. In a recent interview with television station KITV, Lee reiterated not much will change in the gameplan, despite the substitution.

It’s about reminding the world who Christian Lee is.

“The last eight months, I’ve been training my butt off waiting for the opportunity to showcase my skillset again,” Lee emphasized. “And on April 21, it’s going to be a new-and-improved version of my former self, for sure.”


Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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