Thanh Le, the ONE Championship featherweight king, recently hinted at a move up to lightweight in pursuit of another world title. However, that decision hangs in the balance as he awaits the result of the upcoming No.1 contender's fight between Kim Jae Woong and Tang Kai.
Le made a quick defense of his featherweight belt at ONE: Lights Out when he knocked out Garry Tonon in the first round of their bout. In his post-fight interview, he called out Christian Lee for a grappling match at ONE X.
While that grappling match won’t be happening at ONE Championship’s 10-year anniversary show, Le said that a move to the lightweight division could come to fruition if the fight between Kim and Tang goes the distance. In an interview with ONE Championship, he said:
“It depends on this fight, I think it depends on who wins this No.1 contender fight. I think it depends on how they get out of it. Injured, not injured, they go through a three-round battle and beat the hell out of each other. If they need some recovery time then I’m going up and then if it’s a quick knockout [then I’ll stay]. If Kim wins, he had a shot already, he gets a shot."
While Thanh Le called out Christian Lee for a grappling match, his position within the promotion makes him a viable challenger to lightweight champion Ok Rae Yoon.
Meanwhile, Kim Jae Woong moved one step closer to a title shot when he knocked out former champion Martin Nguyen in ONE: Revolution in September 2021. He was then scheduled to take on Tang Kai at ONE X on March 26 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“Maybe he needed to iron out some techniques” - Thanh Le doesn’t think Kim Jae Woong is ready to fight him
Thanh Le recently admitted that he didn't understand Kim Jae Woong's decision to fight at ONE X when he could’ve just waited for his title shot.
Le speculated that the South Korean took the fight against Tang Kai to iron out his skills and help him prepare better for a potential championship bout. He told ONE Championship:
“Maybe he needed to iron out some techniques, some strategies before he stepped in the cage with me and I understand that. But this is your one opportunity to get this belt from somebody who seems pretty dominant, who’s knocked out everybody, you know? It’s the biggest opportunity, yet, for a world title. You want to to put yourself in the best possible position, that’s one side of it."
“If you had a title shot, and you lose this fight you’re out. You got to win some more fights before you come back so that’s a little rough too."