Christian Lee will set a promotional record when he makes his ONE Championship debut on Friday night. The 17-year-old, who faces David Meak in Manila, will become the youngest ever fighter to compete for Asia’s biggest MMA organization.
ONE: Spirit of Champions is set for the 20,000-capacity Mall of Asia Arena and will be televised all over the world. It’s not the sort of stage on which most fighters make their professional debut and even Lee admits he hadn’t expected his career to take off so quickly.
“I didn’t even know if I would be able to fight at such a young age and I was surprised, but it feels great to be the youngest fighter to ever be signed with ONE Championship.”
Lee will be setting all sorts of records on Friday night. It will be the first time in ONE Championship history that a brother and sister have fought together on the same card because his older sibling, Angela, will also be in action. It is a milestone he had always hoped to reach, but he could never have anticipated it would arrive so soon.
“It’s a dream come true to be fighting on the same card as my sister. We’ve talked about it our whole lives and come December 11 we will be the first brother-sister duo to fight on the same show.”
Don’t mistake Lee’s youth for inexperience. He’s a multiple time Pankration world champion and already holds a purple belt in BJJ and a black belt in Taekwondo. The 17-year-old says he has been preparing for this moment for practically his whole life.
“I grew up in a family of martial artists, so it’s always been my life. Martial arts is not only my passion, but my way of living. It’s a part of who I am. My amateur MMA record is 7-0. I was able to compete overseas in Europe, where MMA is legal for minors.”
Lee’s parents are both martial arts instructors who have been training him for virtually his entire life. He had always intended to get involved in the family business, but he didn’t begin to harbor ambitions of being a fighter until he hit his teenage years.
“As a child I wanted to teach martial arts like my father. However, it wasn’t until I was around 13 that I really decided I wanted to become a professional MMA fighter.”
This lifelong martial arts journey recently took Lee to Singapore. It is his father’s birthplace and both siblings were offered a spot on the Evolve MMA fight team. He’s spent the last few months training there and says he benefitted from being in a new environment.
“Life in Singapore is great; I love it in Singapore. Evolve MMA has helped me bring my game to new levels with the world champion coaching. I trained with Shinya Aoki and many other great people and I feel that I am improving by leaps and bounds daily.”
Meak is based in Australia, but is of Cambodian descent. He made his debut in 2012 and is a veteran of five fights. In terms of experience, he certainly has an advantage, but Lee is adamant he won’t let prefight jitter spoil his first ever ONE Championship fight.
“I am nervous, but mostly excited. I’ve dreamed of this moment my whole life and this is my time.”
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