Christian Lee is dead-set on regaining the ONE lightweight world title in his rematch with Ok Rae Yoon at ONE 160 in Singapore on August 26.
'The Warrior' lost the belt in a controversial unanimous decision during the pair's first meeting in 2021. For the rematch, he has no intention of leaving the contest in the hands of the judges and believes he will finish his opponent in the opening round. The 24-year-old has patiently waited for his chance to regain the world title, and the Singaporean-Canadian says he's looking to stay active and defend it in the future if all goes according to plan next month.
One man who could be on a collision course with the Evolve MMA star is Saygid Izagakhmaev. The Russian is ranked No.5 in the division and is the only man in the top-5 that Christian Lee hasn't fought yet. Khabib Nurmagomedov's protoge also looked tremendous on his ONE debut as he submitted James Nakashima in the second round to extend his record to 20-2.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Christian Lee suggested that the 27-year-old could be his toughest opponent. He said:
"I think he's got everything it takes to be the next biggest test. He's a strong wrestler from Russia. And, you know, he's got a good tank behind him. I think he's got a good style, it would be a very exciting fight for everybody. And yeah, I'd be looking forward to that match if it ever happens."
Having fought everyone else in the top-5, a match with the newcomer seems to be the most obvious choice for Christian Lee's next fight after Ok Rae Yoon. However, if the main event at ONE 160 is another close-run affair, then there could well be a trilogy in the offing before either man can look ahead to new opponents.
Christian Lee says Saygid Izagakhmaev is one win away from title shot
Such was the statement made by the Makhachkala-born fighter in his debut that he shot straight into the rankings. Izagakhmaev's size and prowess inside the circle have left an impression on the former champion, who believes the 27-year-old is getting close to a shot at the gold. In the same interview, Lee said:
"Yeah I'm impressed with his performance. He's a big strong guy. I'm surprised that he can make the 170-pound weight limit. He's definitely got the weight-cutting system down well, but I think that one more big fight in the top five will give him the title shot. He's definitely, right now, in my opinion, the next guy that they're building up for the title shot. So yeah, I think one more big fight against anyone in the top five, and he'll be there."
Izagakhmaev's addition to the lightweight contingent adds strength to the argument that the division is one of the organisation's most stacked and it will be fascinating to see who he's paired with next.
Watch the full interview below: