When ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee was forced out of ONE: HEART OF THE LION due to injury, ONE Championship’s matchmakers didn’t have to look far or wait for long to get a suitable replacement bout.
While Angela’s historic World Champion versus World Champion bout with Xiong Jing Nan will have to be rescheduled to a later event, Angela’s brother, ONE featherweight contender Christian “The Warrior” Lee agreed to step up and face Pancrase Lightweight Champion Kazuki Tokudome to fill the gap on the card.
Now Lee and Tokudome will feature in the co-main event on November 9, with the bout taking place at a catch weight of 73 kilograms.
Lee was already on his way to Singapore when he was contacted by ONE’s matchmaking committee to see if he was interested in stepping up. Unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old agreed.
“It’s actually kind of a funny story,” he explains.
“Chatri Sityodtong (ONE Championship Chairman and CEO) broke the news about Angela’s back injury, and we knew this going into it, but we were waiting until they released the news [before saying anything].
“It was on the plane ride over [to Singapore when I was offered the bout]. My dad had Wi-Fi on the plane and they asked us if we wanted to take the fight in Singapore. I said, ‘Sure, no problem. Let’s do it.’”
The bout was offered on just five days’ notice, but Lee did not hesitate, and now he will maintain the Lee family presence on the huge card in Singapore.
“I am extremely prepared. We train year-round, and I’m prepared to face anyone, anytime,” he explains.
“When I got the call, I was excited. There were no second thoughts. It’s a great opportunity for me, and I love coming here to Singapore and fighting in front of my friends and family.”
The match-up offers a stern test of Lee’s credentials, however. Tokudome is an 11-year mixed martial arts veteran who captured the Pancrase Lightweight Title in 2015 and made one successful defence of his belt before making the switch to ONE this year.
The 31-year-old judoka has nine knockout wins and three submission finishes to his name, and Lee knows he will have to be wary of a man with significantly more competitive experience than him.
“I feel like Tokudome is a very well-rounded opponent,” he says.
“For the most part, he’s a generalist, but he does have a good, fast straight left and good wrestling. I feel like he’s more of a counter wrestler. He’s judo-based with some fast hands. I’ll be looking for that.”
Anyone familiar with Lee’s competitive approach will not have been surprised that he accepted the short-notice match-up, and they will be equally unsurprised to hear that he is predicting an early finish when they meet inside the cage.
“I see this fight starting very quick, and I see it ending in a first-round submission,” he predicts.
“I’m going to go out there, I’m going to pick this guy apart, and I’m going to show him something no one has ever shown him before.”