Most of the spotlight may be focused on the title fight between ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and his challenger Ev “E.T.” Ting, but there is a thrilling featherweight showdown between Christian “The Warrior” Lee and Malaysian sensation Keanu Subba that is also taking place at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY.
The exciting three-round battle, which takes place on 21 April from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, features a pair of young, energetic martial artists with phenomenal killer instincts who are driven to break into the upper echelons of the division.
Lee absolutely blitzed the weight class ever since making his debut in December 2015, racking up five first-round finishes before falling to Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen last August at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD. Now, eight months removed from his only blemish, he is looking to bounce back in a major way.
However, that will be easier said than done, as he has a formidable opponent in Subba. The Malaysian has been on a tear since joining ONE in 2015. Most recently, he defeated another formerly-undefeated prospect in Pakistan’s Ahmed Mujtaba, and is looking to extend his win streak to three.
With a gripping featherweight match on deck, ONE checks in with a trio of experts to get their thoughts on the upcoming bout.
Rich “Ace Franklin, MMA Legend and Former World Champion
The bout between Keanu Subba and Christian Lee is an evenly matched fight. Both of these guys transition well between arts, meaning they flow well from strikes, to takedowns, to ground, back to strikes and so on. Both are explosive and evenly matched on skill. This match is a matter of which athlete can impose their will on the other, and one I will truly enjoy watching.
To the athlete, the next match is the most important match of their career. Both of these guys are trying to establish themselves in this weight class as a future contender for the belt. Both of these guys are at that fork in the road, which is a good indicator of where their future path will take them.
I do not expect to see much of the ‘feeling out’ process. Keanu has four wins with four first-round finishes. Christian has five wins with five first-round finishes. It does not take a genius to figure this out.
Steve Dawson, Broadcast Analyst and TV Present
Undoubtedly, Christian’s main asset is his speed. It is not easy to find his level within the ONE roster — that is because it is easy to forget how young he is. That youth is quickly stepping aside for experience though.
Overmatch him, and as Martin Nguyen showed, he could be exposed. Subba is a far more realistic challenge for the 18-year-old. This one will very likely be the most entertaining fight Lee has been involved in.
I do not think anything is crucial for Lee at the moment. The Nguyen fight could be the best thing to happened to him. Baby steps are wise for a fighter with such a long future. A clear fact is that Lee has already become a potential springboard for other fighters. For Subba, this is the biggest fight of his life, but I bet he wishes they could have fought before Nguyen went to work.
I expect speed and a sub-seven-minute finish. I hope it goes into the third round.
Mitch “The Dragon” Chilson, Broadcast Analyst
Christian Lee is getting warmed up. He is 18, he is going to turn 19 soon, and I have seen this kid ever since he first trained at Evolve. The thing about it is he has only shown a little bit of his ground game, and I think he has been trying to strike and fill a hole in his game.
He tried to strike with Nguyen, and his chin was just a little too high. Pankration does not have head shots like MMA, so he got used to keeping his head way up. With Nguyen’s overhand right, he got caught.
I think grappling is going to play a part, and I am really interested to see how these two are alike in wrestling and striking. Both these guys like to stand up, so it depends on whose strategy is going to be different walking into this fight.
If Keanu can keep this fight on his feet, that may be his best bet because the Subbas have very good boxing for MMA. I like the way they put together their footwork, and they tie in the takedown really well. He is going to have to wear on Christian, and get Christian to fall into some of his habits.
We are going to see a similar improvement in Christian because he finally got some time off. He had a tremendous schedule, and he was also worn out by the time he fought Nguyen, so I think we are going to see an improvement from him in the striking.
He is going to be a lot more technical, his chin will be down, his footwork will be solid, and I think we are going to see a better striker in Christian.
It is a good fight either way. If both these guys show up healthy and ready to go, it is going to be a really interesting fight.