Following his capture of the ONE interim featherweight MMA title this past weekend, former undisputed king Thanh Le is on a mission to reclaim the division’s throne.
The Vietnamese-American claimed the interim title and cemented the No. 1-spot in the ONE featherweight rankings this past Saturday, in the main event of ONE Fight Night 15, and he did so in astonishing fashion.
After just 62 seconds of the first round, Le locked up a heel hook to submit No. 3-ranked contender Ilya Freymanov. The result may have shocked onlookers worldwide, but it came as no surprise to Le.
Despite the highlight reel of knockouts he has amassed in ONE, the 38-year-old has wanted to showcase his submission skills for some time. And he managed to do so with style points against the Russian.
Le’s nerves were alive and kicking prior to the contest. It had been a long year waiting to return for the former king. And even at this point of his career, with a short-notice change of plans due to the withdrawal of Tang Kai from ONE Fight Night 12’s main event this past July, he’s still learning things about himself.
“A lot of things honestly, but a couple of things, I was a little nervous before this fight,” he said.
“A couple of things personally, you know, going through my head, just it was really cool to be able to face a change of opponent, short camp.
“But it’s not about having a little piece of gold. It’s about getting my belt back from Tang Kai. But I had to pass this challenge first and, the way I did it, I was very proud of myself. Channeling all the training and info I’m getting from my guys and my team, meant a lot.”
Having earned the submission win in a short amount of time, Le walked away from Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, relatively unscathed. That allows him to shift his focus to avenging his unanimous decision title loss to Tang Kai last August.
All roads now lead to the Chinese phenom, and Le promised a much different outcome in his post-fight interview as he stated that no judges will be needed in the rematch.
Le now has to deliver on these words, and time will tell whether he can right the wrongs of ONE 160 and unify the division’s titles.
“Obviously, I’m going to take my time and spend time with my family and reassess. But quick for me might be different than quick for ya’ll. And so what I mean by that is have a different definition, but we’re going to turn around and you know, I won’t stop training,” Le revealed.
“So we’ll start working towards the Tang Kai rematch, so I’m getting my actual belt back and do round six since we’ve got an ugly, disgusting, nasty, unfinished fight that we’ve got to finish.
“But yeah, I’m excited to get back in there and he’s obviously very, very good. The fight’s going to look a little differently, so we’ll let you see when the time comes.”