“One person I see across the globe who is doing extremely well and I hope to one day share a cage with is Khabib Nurmagomedov.”
Christian Lee, the prodigal son of mixed martial arts in Singapore, ultimately missed his chance for a cross promotion super-fight against the recently retired Nurmagomedov, who has left the sport with an undefeated record of 29-0, in wake of his father’s unfortunate passing.
Lee however, has his mind set for a fight much larger and of greater importance – his first defense of the lightweight world title against undefeated challenger Iuri Lapicus.
But before that, Lee shares with us growing up as a martial artist in a family oriented around fisticuffs.
“As a kid, you’re not always going to want to train, and that’s where it really helps to have the support of your parents to push you to do the things you don’t always wanna do, but is good for you.”
Lee’s father, Ken, played a big role in reinstating the sport ‘Pankration’ into the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Evidently, Lee became a multiple-time Junior Pankration World Champion.
Also, in spite of regular coffeeshop talk, Lee believes that you don’t have to go overseas to flourish as an athlete, particularly in mixed martial arts.
“A lot of people believe they need to join a big gym overseas, but if you got a good thing going with your home team, for Singapore we have Evolve MMA, so find a team you can start with and stick with.”
Singapore-based Evolve MMA boasts the most world champion athletes under its roster, with both Lee and his sister Angela as well as for former UFC champions Miesha Tate, and Rafael Dos Anjos.
“I don’t think that growing up in Singapore you have to travel to carve your MMA career. There are many resources here in Singapore and if you work hard to get noticed, before you realise it you’ll be fighting professionally.” he finished.
On the topic of starting a career in mixed martial arts, Lee shared with us some insights.
“I don’t think there’s any age too late to start MMA. In terms of fighting, even if you start in your 20’s it’s not too late. That’s ideally where you will be in your prime years. What it comes down to is how much time and energy you’re willing to commit for it. You might not pick up things as fast but if you have the desire and go all in, you’ll catch up in no time.”
Lee’s professional perspective are only backed up with actual facts.
Brock Lesnar, the WWE-star turned UFC Heavyweight Champion only started training at the age of 29, while the legendary Randy Couture only began his training at age 34. Couture, a six-time champion, is undisputedly one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time.
On career longevity, Lee wants to focus more on what he can achieve in the sport, as compared to the length.
“In five years of fighting professionally, I’ve been able to rack up a large amount of wins and to claim the lightweight world title as well as the Grand Prix title. There are many more accolades I would like to collect before I call it a day, so it’s not about the time for me, it’s about what I can get done.”
Lee’s resume is nothing but spectacular as a 22-year-old, but only one notable blemish – his two-time loss against Martin Nguyen, the current featherweight champion.
“I went into that match up with no training camp and I broke my thumb in the fight prior to that. I had to train with a cast on and had to contend with no sparring, hard training. I felt it affected my performance but I was able to come up with a split decision so I would definitely want to right that wrong with a full camp and preparation in future.”
Back to the topic against the number one pound for pound fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Lee has or shall I say, HAD a game plan against him.
Knowing that Lee himself is versatile across the various pillars of martial arts, we all know that Nurmagomedov is an extensive grappler who exclusively fights on the ground, racking up 11 submission victories in his 29 wins.
“If me and Khabib were to fight, the thing is people worry about his game too much. They worry about not getting taken down, instead of how are they going to win the fight. I would pick him apart with my striking, stop his takedowns and then take him down as well. My game plan is to get off to the punch before he does because once he gets a takedown on you, it’s all downhill from there. The key to beating him is to hit him first and continue hitting him until you get your hands raised.”
Lee also added his great last name ancestor Bruce Lee, is an inspiration to him.
Bruce Lee, probably the world most recognized martial artist, brought the Asian culture and martial arts culture into America.
“He incorporated it into movies, and to create such a big movement just from such limited resources, he was really the pioneer of martial arts back in the day. Before that, nobody knew such a thing existed, it was just said as a ‘chinese practice’.”
When asked if Lee would consider a career in entertainment after he retires, he only had this to say.
“I like to keep my options open but for me I’m not so much a big fan of being in the spotlight. I like to just get in there and fight.” as he laughed heartily.
Catch Christian Lee on Toggle on the 30th October as he defends his championship against the undefeated Moldovian Iuri Lapicus.Leave a comment