What’s next for Christian Lee? 3 big fights to make

Christian Lee (middle) has plenty of potential opponents ahead of his next fight inside the Circle. [Photos ONE Championship]
Christian Lee (middle) has plenty of potential opponents ahead of his next fight inside the Circle. [Photos ONE Championship]

Christian Lee is back on top of the lightweight world and he did that through pure mixed martial arts mastery.

The Singaporean-American superstar pulled off complete domination of Ok Rae Yoon to regain the ONE lightweight world title at ONE 160, thus starting his second reign with the golden strap.

Lee pulled no punches when he took on Ok in their rematch and showed the trademark aggression he’s been known for in his fights. That being said, ‘The Warrior’ certainly took it up a notch. Lee’s dominance was at such an unstoppable pace that the referee had no other choice but to call a halt to the fight mere seconds into the second round to save Ok from further harm.

At just 24 years old, Lee is already on a legendary run that only a select few in the sport have achieved. The United MMA star became the ONE lightweight world champion for the first time when he was just 20 years old, beating Japanese icon Shinya Aoki at ONE: Enter the Dragon in May 2019.

Of his four world title wins, none have gone past the second round, with all four ending in highlight-reel knockouts of Aoki, Iuri Lapicus, Timofey Nastyukhin and, most recently, Ok.

He also nabbed the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship when he beat Dagi Arslanaliev in the middle of his first world title reign.

Christian Lee practically swept through the first generation of elite lightweights in ONE Championship and could continue his reign through the next. That said, here are three opponents who could possibly be next for ‘The Warrior'.

#3. Christian Lee vs. Dagi Arslanaliev

Dagi Arslanaliev was on the precipice of mixed martial arts glory, but then ran into Christian Lee. Arslanaliev and Lee met in the final of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix and the two lightweight killers put on an instant classic.

Lee, who was already the ONE lightweight world champion at the time, took on the responsibility of facing Arslanaliev in the final round, slotting in for the injured Eddie Alvarez on short notice.

Despite his loss to Lee, Arslanaliev remains one of the most dangerous lightweights, with all eight of his wins in ONE Championship ending in either a knockout or tap-out.

Arslanaliev, the No.2-ranked lightweight contender, has since bounced back from his loss to Lee and knocked out Timofey Nastyukhin at ONE: Winter Warriors in December 2021.

The two lightweight contenders went to war during their match but it ultimately became evident that Arslanaliev was the better man. With his opponent’s energy slowly fading away, Arslanaliev clocked Nastyukhin with a couple of right hands before finishing the fight on the canvas barely a minute into the third round.

#2. Christian Lee vs. Saygid Izagakhmaev

ONE Championship’s lightweight division is littered with killers and one of them made his presence felt in just his debut with the promotion.

Saygid Izagakhmaev is a protege of mixed martial arts legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, and the Russian brawler is nothing short of an intimidating physical force in the circle.

Izagakhmaev ragdolled James Nakashima in his January 2022 debut, eventually taking a second-round submission win. It was a one-sided domination from start to finish.

Christian Lee is no stranger to the fight game, but Izagakhmaev presents a whole different threat to the lightweight king. ‘The Warrior’ has never faced anyone with the wrestling pedigree of Izagakhmaev and that alone is enough to create an intriguing matchup for Lee.

Plus, with Khabib in Izagakhmaev’s corner, a man Lee swore he could beat not too long ago, it adds an interesting dynamic to the fight.

#1. Christian Lee vs. Eddie Alvarez

Christian Lee is arguably the best lightweight on the planet. So why not make a match between him against one of the greatest lightweights of all time and a man who’s the last remaining holdover from the past generation’s greatest fighters?

A matchup between Lee and American MMA legend Eddie Alvarez has all the makings of a “passing of the torch” moment between two transcendent talents. It has also been a long time coming.

Lee is only 24 and although he’s already accomplished so much in his career, he’s yet to reach his athletic prime. Alvarez, who’s 14 years Lee’s senior, is still one of the top names in the sport and is one of the most respected fighters of all time.

Alvarez remains the only person to win world titles in Bellator and the UFC. While he’s yet to capture the ONE lightweight world title, ‘The Underground King’ is fully capable of winning the gold strap before he officially hangs up the gloves.

However, a string of unfortunate setbacks have quelled Alvarez’ pursuit of the belt. But with the division all but cleared, Lee might see it in his best interest to take on the aging legend before time runs out.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard