Keanu Subba is riding a wave of momentum. Following his most recent victory over Pakistani prospect Ahmed Mujtaba, the Malaysian sensation will return to the cage on Friday, 18 August, to battle Christian “The Warrior” Lee in a featherweight showdown at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS. The event broadcasts live from the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated clash, Subba feels strong, and believes he can defeat his Singaporean rival in every area of the game.
“I feel confident, and I believe I will beat him,” the 23-year-old Malaysian says. “I will strike with him, catch him standing up, and I will be faster than him on the ground. I just feel like I will be one step ahead of him.”
Subba is a former MIMMA Featherweight Champion who splits his time training at Bali MMA and Monarchy MMA. He holds a professional record of 5-2, with three victories coming by first-round TKO and another two by submission.
Following his loss to Chinese dynamo Li Kai Wen at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS in July 2016, the well-rounded Malaysian strung together two wins over a pair of talented Pakistani MMA prospects. Most recently, he submitted the previously-undefeated Ahmed Mujtaba with a brilliant guillotine choke at ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS in February.
In Lee, he will be facing someone who has sacrificed almost everything for martial arts.
“The Warrior,” who trains at Evolve MMA and United MMA, holds a stellar 6-1 record. Since making his professional debut in ONE Championship back in December 2015, the 19-year-old Singaporean prospect similarly racked up five straight victories — three by TKO and two by submission — all in the first round.
That hot streak turned cold last August, however, when Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen put him to sleep with a modified guillotine choke at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD. This past April, however, Lee got back into the win column with another first-round stoppage win, this time over Wan Jian Ping.
Subba sees a younger version of himself in Lee. “What I see in Christian was me when I was 19. It was the same me — young, aggressive, and going for the finish right away. You can see that in all his bouts,” he says.
“I had the same mentality. When you face someone who has been competing for a while, it is different, and I learned that the hard way when I lost my bout against Li Kai Wen, but I grew from that. Right now, I am smarter and more intelligent about martial arts. I feel I have the experience.”
This is a pivotal matchup in the featherweight division, as a victory could elevate the winner to the upper echelon of the weight class, while a loss will push the other further down the ladder.
However, Subba is not worried. In fact, he is duly motivated by progressing forward in his career, and silencing critics who bet against him.
“It is just about improving in every fight,” he says. “When people doubt me, it makes me stronger. I just keep growing, improve in every single fight, and prove [people wrong] all the time.”