ONE featherweight world champion Thanh Le hints at eventual lightweight run

Thanh Le (left) Ok Rae Yoon (right) [Photo: ONE Championship]
Thanh Le (left) Ok Rae Yoon (right) [Photo: ONE Championship]
Atilano Diaz

Reigning ONE featherweight world champion Thanh Le has a huge challenge ahead of him when he takes on undefeated American superstar Garry ‘The Lion Killer’ Tonon with his 155-lb. belt on the line.

Thanh Le and Garry Tonon are set to throw down at ONE Championship’s highly anticipated 10th-anniversary show slated for early 2022. If he can get past Tonon, it looks like Thanh Le will have his sights set on a move to lightweight.

Thanh Le's IG Stories (@thanhlemma)
Thanh Le's IG Stories (@thanhlemma)

Responding to a fan query on his Instagram stories, Thanh Le revealed he’s very much interested in making a run at the ONE lightweight world championship.

According to Thanh le:

“Yes, I still want to face Christian [Lee]. He’s a great challenge. But if he doesn’t get the belt back from Ok [Rae Yoon], I’m gonna have to take it from him first,”

Thanh Le captured the featherweight belt after knocking out former champion Martin Nguyen in October of 2020. Since then, the Vietnamese-American has had his eyes on a cross-divisional showdown with former-champion Christian Lee.

However, Lee surrendered the lightweight strap to South Korea’s Ok Rae Yoon last September in a close but controversial decision. Lee is expected to get the next crack at Ok in an immediate rematch once that fight gets put together sometime in 2022.

If Lee is unable to regain the ONE lightweight world title from Ok, Thanh Le has no qualms stepping up to the challenge and attempting to reach rare double champion status.

But first, Thanh Le has to get past his first featherweight challenger

Taking on Garry Tonon, a decorated submission grappler from the famed but now defunct Danaher Death Squad, is certainly no easy task.

Tonon made his transition to MMA in 2018, and has since put together a perfect 6-0 record as a mixed martial artist under the ONE Championship banner. Notable victories include wins over Sung Jong Lee, Yoshiki Nakahara and, most recently, Koyomi Matsushima. He is now the No. 2-ranked fighter in the featherweight division.

Thanh Le, on the other hand, joined ONE Championship in 2019, and is now 4-0 in the promotion. All four victories have come by knockout. Thanh Le’s most impressive performance came in his title win over the aforementioned Nguyen.

The Thanh Le -- Garry Tonon showdown presents fans with the classic striker vs. grappler dynamic prevalent in the early days of MMA. This time, however, both fighters are coming in very well-rounded, with Tonon showcasing incredible improvement in the striking department over the past few years, while Thanh Le has worked with high-level grapplers like Ryan Hall consistently in training camp.

Edited by David Andrew
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