Teenage sensation Christian Lee only made his pro debut last year but has already left a trail of featherweights in his wake. Watching these developments with interest is Australia’s Martin Nguyen, who will be looking to put an end to the Singaporean’s winning streak at ONE: Heroes of the World.
It’s an intriguing match-up because both men have been fighting regularly for ONE Championship and Nguyen sees much to admire in his opponent’s approach.
“I have been watching Christian’s fights ever since he started fighting for ONE. I’m a fan of his style,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
Nguyen is nearly ten years older than the teenager and admits he would love to have started training and competing in MMA at an earlier age.
“One thing I had wished I’d done was to start MMA earlier like Christian did. With the family and gym support he has, I’m sure he can get far in this game.”
Despite winning five fights, Lee has spent less than 13 minutes competing in the ONE cage and that means there are still several unknowns. Nguyen does not see any obvious holes in his opponent’s game, but believes they are there and hopes he can find them.
“I think every fighter has their weaknesses or something they lack in this fight game. As for Christian, I haven’t seen him slip up once, but I will also be happy to exploit his weaknesses when we meet.”
Nguyen was handed a surprise title shot last year when Naruntungalag Jadambaa was refused entry to Indonesia. The Australian got the call to replace him and face Marat Gafurov for the interim ONE Championship featherweight title, suffering the first and only defeat of his career.
Gafurov scored a quickfire submission win on that occasion, but Nguyen does not regret stepping up to take the fight. He thinks things would have been different if he’s had more time to prepare for the Russian.
“The fight was definitely short notice, but it was for the best for me and the company. If I were to fight him next time with a full camp it would definitely last longer than 41 seconds.”
Despite that setback, Nguyen still has three ONE Championship wins to his name and is facing an opponent who’s won five out of five for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion. Whoever emerges victorious on Aug. 13 will be very close to the top of the featherweight rankings and the Australian would love to steal some of Lee’s momentum.
“He is on a five fight winning streak and a win over someone with those credentials in the short amount of time he’s had would be huge.”
A win would leave Nguyen within touching distance of a second title shot, but after being rushed into a first fight with Gafurov, he is happy to bide his time,
“No, I don’t think the winner should get a title shot. It’s too early to tell, but I think a fight against a top three opponent would be called for.”
The fight is taking place in The Venetian, one of Asia’s most iconic casinos. ONE: Heroes of the World will be the promotion’s first event in Macau. Nguyen has already fought in the Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia, and is looking forward to competing in a completely new territory.
“I’m definitely excited about travelling to Macau. I have never stepped foot in China and the pleasures of being a part of ONE championship is I get to explore Asia, as well as have fun punching faces.”
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