When it comes to training during the coronavirus pandemic, ONE Championship lightweight title holder Christian Lee lucked out.
Living in Hawaii, Christian trains under his father, and alongside sister Angela Lee (ONE’s atomweight champion, and arguably their biggest star). So with his return imminent, and a tough title defense against the undefeated Iuri Lapicus scheduled for Inside the Matrix this Friday, Lee was definitely in the right spot.
“It’s a family run gym. So between me and my dad, my brother-in-law [Bruno Pucci], you know, we’re all family, we were doing all the necessary precautions to stay safe,” Lee (13-1) explained during an Inside the Matrix media day this week. “And we just resumed training as normal. It’s been a bit of good, hard eight weeks of camp and I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been.”
Lee has spent his entire career with ONE Championship. He signed as a 17-year old, initially competing at featherweight. Following back-to-back losses in 2018, including a failed bid for the title in that weight class against Martin Nguyen, he began the process of moving up a division. A couple of wins later, he defeated legendary Japanese fighter Shinya Aoki to win the promotion’s lightweight strap.
What really seemed to establish Lee as a star in his own right, however, was his last bout. Entering ONE’s lightweight grand prix as a short-notice replacement, he defeated a dangerous prospect in Saygid Guseyn Arslanalie.
While some might see that as a big confidence boost, “it wasn’t so much that it was a confidence booster, because I felt the confidence was already there,” Lee explained, reflecting on the fight. “That’s the reason I took the fight. And I took it on 10 days’ notice. You know, many people considered [Arslanalie] to be the number one contender in the division at the time. And I believe he was as well. So for me, that was like my first title defense in a way. Although it was for the Grand Prix belt, he was the number one contender and I took him out.”
Technically, his first title defense will come this Friday in Singapore at Inside the Matrix. While Iuri Lapicus is a perfect 14-0, Lee doesn’t see anything he hasn’t encountered before.
“I think the only reason Iuri’s still undefeated is because he hasn’t fought me yet,” Lee said Tuesday. “So you know, he’s very talented. He’s a dangerous fighter. But no, I don’t see anything special in this guy that I can’t carry through.”
Watch the full ONE Championship: Inside the Matrix media day session with Christian Lee above.