A somewhat controversial first fight between Ok Rae Yoon and Christian Lee would be ran back at ONE 160 on Friday, with the promotion’s lightweight title on the line.
Most fans and pundits, however, seemed to agree with the previous fight’s decision going to the underdog challenger Yoon, with the main critics of the decision being Christian and his twin, fellow ONE Championship star and champion Angela Lee. Even ONE president Chatri Sityodtong, who has been criticized in the past for showing favouritism to the Lee siblings and other Evolve MMA fighters, said he believed Yoon won the fight.
Christian Lee still received the immediate rematch as he looked to get back the belt he won in 2019, and insisted that he would be fighting at 100% this time after only being at about 15% for the first fight.
In their first meeting, both men had big moments that almost finished that fight but it was Yoon who had all the success late as he poured it on in rounds four and five with his amazing cardio. Ok Rae Yoon had carved his path to the belt by winning three fights against former Champions in a span of seven months in 2021: his ONE debut was against Marat Gafurov who previously held the ONE featherweight belt, followed by Eddie Alvarez who held the UFC and Bellator lightweight belts, and last of course he beat Christian Lee to capture the ONE lightweight belt.
In Friday’s rematch at ONE 160, Ok Rae Yoon started the fight with pressure, throwing straight shots and outside leg kicks, but Lee returned the favor with his own clean blows including a leg kick that buckled Yoon’s leg. The challenger’s increased speed and comfort on the feet was apparent from the first exchanges. Meanwhile the champion looked to land big right hands over the lead shoulder of Lee; Lee shoulder rolled some and ate others but never appeared hurt.
The pace was high already and both men landed good shots. The first devastating blow came when Lee landed a clean left hook that staggered OK, followed it with a high kick, and swarmed with a flurry against the fence that again hurt Yoon. The champ’s chin held up however, until a big right hand dropped him. Lee grabbed the front headlock, using it to land several grounded knees but Ok’s toughness was on full display as he got back to his feet. But now Christian was swarming, beating Yoon up against the fence before dropping him again with a right hand even though the champion was circling away from it. Combos caused OK to curl up behind a high guard against the fence once more as Lee poured it on. The round ended with some uncertainty as to how Yoon was still in this fight at all.
Most of the shots that staggered or dropped Yoon came when his defense lapsed or when the pair traded strikes in fifty-fifty exchanges, where Lee’s speed won out. Christian had thrown a lot of volume in the opening round trying to finish the fight and now began to breathe from his mouth already, which could have become a worry if the fight went late due to the indefatigable cardio of Ok. Lee was obviously far ahead in terms of the scorecards though and the visible damage was mounting as OK sported a big hematoma which almost closed his right eye.
Several fifty-fifty exchanges opened round two but it was not long before the challenger tricked his foe to circle into a brutal outside leg kick set up smartly by a superman punch. Now backed against the fence a cross over the shoulder of Ok dropped the champ yet again, allowing Christian Lee to finish the fight with successive brutal grounded knees as he became a four-time ONE champion in possibly his best performance to date.
Lee got the belt over his shoulder, a kiss from his wife, and his young daughter placed in his right arm, opposite his belt, as he gave his post-fight interview. The once-again champion got one of the fifty-thousand dollar bonuses that are traditionally announced during the post fight interview, and said, “At the end of the day we’re providing for our family [by fighting], so this baby girl is gonna be eating good,” indicating his daughter.
Nothing was said about it in the immediate aftermath but the big question on everyone’s minds was obvious; would a trilogy be next for these men? Both fights had delivered pure entertainment and fans would be in for a treat with a third one, but after a close win and a knockout loss it might take a bounce-back win against another contender for Ok Rae Yoon to earn another title fight.