Christian “The Warrior” Lee may have enjoyed a winning year in 2019, but he knows tougher tests lie ahead.
Then, The Asian-American athlete capped off his stellar year by defeating Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev by unanimous decision to secure the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship at ONE: CENTURY PART I last October.
With a long line of hungry contenders climbing up the division rankings, here are three key athletes who could challenge Lee for lightweight supremacy.
Iuri Lapicus was scheduled to face Lee at ONE INFINITY 2 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of all live shows.
The undefeated Moldovan athlete is the ideal opponent for Lee. He has 14 finishes to his name – 10 of which are submissions – including breakout performances against Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai and Marat “Cobra” Gafurov.
Pieter “The Archangel” Buist made a strong case to earn the number three contender spot in the ONE athlete lightweight rankings.
Thanks to his explosive arsenal of punches, kicks, and knees, the Dutchman has racked up three-straight victories. These include back-to-back wins over Kota “Kong” Shimoishi and Antonio “The Spartan” Caruso.
More importantly, his breakthrough came at ONE: FIRE & FURY in Manila. “The Archangel” pulled off the biggest win of his career by defeating Filipino icon Eduard “Landslide” Folayang by split decision.
“The Archangel” brings a blend of offense and defense, which he believes could pose a threat to Lee’s reign as lightweight king.
Timofey Nastyukhin authored one of the greatest upsets in mixed martial arts last year when he knocked out “The Underground King” Eddie Alvarez, but he could not capitalize on the momentum due to injury.
Even though he was forced to watch the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix on the sidelines, Nastyukhin is still one of the division’s biggest threats.
With his powerful striking, Nastyukhin could end any bout instantly. Coupled with his aggressive style and pressure, the Russian dynamo deservedly earns the number four spot in the lightweight rankings.
When he does return to action, fans can be sure that the ONE Lightweight World Title will be in his sights.
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