Singaporean striker Amir Khan heads into ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS looking to prove a point on home soil.
Khan had a standout year in 2017, setting the record for the most KO finishes in ONE Championship history with seven, then defeated respected Australian veteran Adrian Pang in a three-round classic to extend his winning streak to six.
But since the turn of the year, things haven’t quite gone to plan for Khan. In his latest outing against Russian contender Timofey Nastyukhin, Khan was outpaced and outgunned, as he lost out on the scorecards to his fellow lightweight contender.
Looking back on that bout, Khan says he didn’t do himself justice.
“I was just passive, and did not engage. The real Amir Khan was not there to perform that night,” he said.
“The whole match, I was just waiting for the right moment to capitalize, which I never got the opportunity to. I feel like I was just waiting too long. It was a wrong game plan, and you learn from it.”
The defeat prompted Khan to look at his preparation, and assess how he can improve his training in order to take him that extra step from contender to champion in the coming year.
Khan’s best asset is undoubtedly his striking, and the Singaporean decided that further sharpening his best weapon was the best way to give him the crucial edge in future bouts.
Working at Evolve MMA in Singapore, there’s no shortage of world-class strikers to work with, and he has resolved to make even more use of that expertise from now on.
“I kind of changed my training routine. I am going back to my roots, and training my Muay Thai skills more,” he explained.
“I am also mixing it up. I got some more sparring partners this time.
“Every session, every sparring, I take it really seriously, and I push myself in every way. Whether I am feeling tired, or fresh, I push through with every session.”
Khan will be looking to showcase the results of his newly-refocused training when he returns to action at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS on Friday, 18 May in Singapore.
Lee will take on ace grappler Sung Jong Lee, a 32-year-old South Korean who has an impressive finishing rate of his own, though his have all come via submission.
Khan has done his homework on the South Korean, and despite Lee’s grappling credentials, the Singaporean says he holds the advantages in all aspects of the contest.
“I cannot really get much footage of him, but he finishes matches early with foot locks. I am very wary of that. Just in case I get caught in that situation, I know what to do, and I will not panic,” he explained.
“I think I can take the fight anywhere I go. I do not think he will be a match for me, but I am going to keep my focus, and focus on myself. I just need to perform the way I can.”
Nothing less than victory will do for Khan as he looks to propel himself back into title contention following his setback against Nastyukhin.
After facing a high-pace, high-pressure striker in his last matchup, Khan knows he faces a different type of challenge with Lee, who will offer a different type of pressure in his approach.
But Khan has his sights set on an impressive performance, a decisive victory, and a chance to face one of the top lightweight contenders again later in the year.
“Once I beat him, I will fight any top lightweight, like [Honorio] Banario, maybe Shannon [Wiratchai], or Ev Ting — whomever they want to give me,” said Khan.
“After that I feel like I will be ready for a title shot. I still feel like I can face the champion, but I think I need to beat the right people. It is not how many wins I get – five-win streak, 10-win streak – it is who I beat.”