ONE Championship: Christian Lee wants welterweight title fight with Kiamrian Abbasov ‘by end of the year’
- Lee reclaimed the ONE lightweight title with a second-round stoppage of Ok Rae-yoon last month, and now eyes the welterweight champ Abbasov
- ‘The Warrior’ views the match-up as ‘toughest test’ of his career to date but believes he can ‘get it done’
Christian Lee is once again the ONE Championship lightweight king, but his ambition has not been satisfied.
The Canadian-American was back in action at ONE 160 last month in Singapore, where he avenged a controversial decision loss to South Korea’s Ok Rae-yoon with a second-round TKO, and reclaimed the promotion’s lightweight belt in the process.
Speculation about his first title challenger was immediate, but if he has his way, his next fight will occur outside the lightweight division.
“I would love to test myself against the champion one division up,” Lee, 24, told the Post. “I’m always open to new challenges, and I think that Kiamrian Abbasov would absolutely be the toughest test of my career.”
It remains to be see if Lee (16-4) will get his wish. However, after speaking with ONE, he is optimistic the fight will happen – perhaps even before the year is out.
“We’ve been in talks,” he said. “I just want to see what Kiamrian Abbasov has to say.
“If everything goes according to plan, I’d like to make that happen by the end of the year.”
Defeating Abbasov (23-5) will be a difficult task, even for a fighter of Lee’s ilk.
The Kyrgyzstani champion lost his last fight, but that was up in the middleweight division against two-division champion Reinier de Ridder, who is arguably ONE’s top pound-for-pound fighter.
At welterweight, he has been a force to be reckoned with, defeating Agilan Thani, Yushin Okami, Zebaztian Kadestam and James Nakashima in his last four fights.
But Lee, who spent the early days of his career down in the featherweight division, still likes his chances in the potential match-up.
“I think a fight with Abbasov is going to be a war, but I think I can get it done,” he said, sizing up his much larger rival.
“I think he’s very skilled but I think my style lines up well with his style. I think I’m faster, I think that I’m a better striker, I think that I’m a better grappler.
“I’m going to have to break down his fight footage and see where the openings are, but absolutely I see myself getting my hand raised against him.”
If Lee were to defeat Abbasov, he would become one of just a handful of two-division champions in ONE history, joining the likes of De Ridder, Aung La N Sang, and potentially his sister, atomweight champion Angela Lee, who will challenge Xiong Jingnan for strawweight gold at ONE on Prime Video 2 on October 1.
He claims a two-division title reign has been in his plans since he first laid hands on the lightweight title after stopping Japanese great Shinya Aoki in 2019.
“It would just be another one of my goals ticked off,” he said. “When I started this fight game, my goal was to be a world champion. Immediately my next goal was to be a two-weight world champion.”
While Lee is hoping to challenge for welterweight gold, he has not forgotten about his duties as the lightweight champion.
He has given plenty of thought to his next opponent at lightweight, but having beaten four of the division’s top-five fighters already, believes that no obvious title challenger currently exists.
“In the lightweight rankings, Saygid [Izagakhmaev], he’s the only guy I haven’t fought yet, but he’s only got one fight in ONE Championship so far,” Lee said. “He has a good record outside of ONE, but I’d like to see him put together a few more wins – especially guys in the rankings, in the top five – before he gets a title shot.
“For now, I’m just going to be keeping a close eye on the lightweight division while that shakes out, and I’m looking forward to keeping options open. I would love to go up to welterweight and fight Kiamrian Abbasov for his title.”