Christian “The Warrior” Lee became the ONE Lightweight World Champion — the youngest male world champion in mixed martial arts history when he defeated Japanese legend Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki with a swift knockout at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON last May.
The 20-year-old stalwart looks back on an amazing victory, and his plans moving forward in his career.
“It was a surreal experience. The belt has been a dream of mine for a very long time. The moment they put that strap on my shoulder was just amazing,” shared Lee.
The young Singaporean hero’s strategy was to finish Aoki in the first round and avoid getting taken down. However, Aoki showed his experience in the match, especially when easily took the action to the canvas and put the armbar on Lee.
Despite entering a dangerous proposition with the submission wizard however, Lee was able to survive to the end of the round, and then clinch the exciting finish in the second.
“I went to the body lock, and he was able to secure the takedown. I was stuck under him for the first round, but through my training and experience, I was able to survive, and then get the finish in the second round,” said Lee.
“I’ve got to be honest – that arm-bar was tight, very tight. However, there was not a single thought in my mind of tapping,” he added.
Despite Aoki’s impressive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, Lee was determined to claim the belt.
“Whether it’s a choke, an arm lock, or an arm-bar, I will never tap in a fight. That’s really not me being cocky or arrogant – that is simply how much each bout means to me. I go into each match ready to go out on my shield, and ready to take my opponent out,” said Lee.
“I kind of felt like after the first round, all of the cobwebs were out. I kind of used that as a warm-up round. Going into the second, I really just went and I put out the game plan I was supposed to do in the first round. I stuffed his shot, I looked for the chin, and I got the finish,” he continued.
As soon as Lee caught Aoki on the button, he knew he had the win in the bag.
“I knew it was over. Some people are saying it was an early stoppage, but I have 100-percent belief in myself as a martial artist, and when I smell blood, I go for the finish. As soon as I felt an impact on his chin, I knew that it was over,” said Lee.
“I stalked him down to the ground, I got the drop, and I went for the finish. That’s when [referee] Olivier Coste stepped in.”
It was an impressive bout for Lee, winning the world title he coveted for so long, but he admitted he didn’t intend to badly hurt Aoki, whom he has nothing but respect for.
“Shinya is a teammate and a friend, and even though we were stepping in there as competitors, I still wouldn’t want any serious damage done to him, so I’m glad the stoppage came,” said Lee.
Now that he is a world champion, Lee has plans to keep prepared and be ready for any bout that may come his way and is not ruling out returning to featherweight where he’s also had immense success.
He is also aware that the exciting ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix could present the first opportunity to defend the belt.
“Whether that means going back down to challenge for the belt at featherweight, or they find a top contender to challenge for my belt at lightweight, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. I want to stay active. I’m hungry and ready to fight whoever ONE Championship throws at me next.” Lee said.
“I am still the top contender in the featherweight division. There’s no one else but me, and if I choose to and if everything lines up, I would absolutely be ready for a fight for that featherweight belt.”