Exclusive Interview: ONE Championship’s Christian Lee lets us in on his training secrets during the pandemic, with what to expect next for ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX

After a lengthy disruption owing to the effects of COVID-19, sports events are now slowly coming back to the fore, not least the wildly popular ONE Championship (ONE). Their latest event — ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX — will be taking place on October 30 right on our shores in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, with Singapore’s very own Christian Lee featuring in the event.

ONE Championship: ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX Roster

Christian Lee returns to Singapore, the venue where he won the ONE Lightweight Championship against Shinya Aoki. He will be facing Moldova’s Iuri Lapicus in the cage to defend his title belt.

We had the chance to exclusively talk to Christian on what he’s done since his last fight, his training regiment during the pandemic as well as looking towards his upcoming fight.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your recent marriage. 2020 has obviously been a difficult year, so this was good motivation for you in that respect?

Thank you, I appreciate that. You know, since getting married this year in February, it’s really been amazing. Especially during this time with the pandemic, I was able to spend a lot of time at home with my wife and with my family. My wife and I have been together for so long, and it was so nice just officially to sign the papers and get married.

We are seeing new safety regulations being put in place everywhere for COVID-19, what changes have you seen to your training regiment personally?

Here in Hawaii, all the gyms have actually been closed, so we had to close down our gym, United MMA, to the public. But because it’s family-run I have the keys to the gym, so I’ve still been going in every day, just continuing to train, continuing to stay in shape.

And it wasn’t until I signed my contract for my bout with Iuri Lapicus that I really started to go back into fight camp and that’s when I pulled in a few really close training partners of mine, along with my brother-in-law. We made sure that we were doing everything we could just to stay safe — checking our temperatures, making sure no one was sick. And then from there, we would just continue to train.

ONE Championship Christian Lee: Training Family Gym
Christian at his family-run gym, United MMA

Any difficulties in adapting to these changes?

No, thankfully with the way that we have the gym set up, I was able to continue training as normal; the (same) way that I would for any other fight camp. And this camp has really been great so far; I’m very happy with how it went.

Despite all these safety regulations, there must be some fear over the threat of getting infected. So how are you coping with that mentally?

Yeah, it’s always in the back of my mind. My family and I and all of my teammates, we try our best to follow the safety regulations and take all the necessary precautions. When it comes to training, that’s something we cannot sacrifice when preparing for a fight and so although there is a risk, it’s just a risk we have to take in preparing for this match.

ONE Championship Christian Lee: Fight
Christian Lee after defeating Jianping Wan in a TKO

Your last appearance in Singapore was in May last year, and it was where you beat Shinya Aoki to become the Lightweight champ. How does it feel coming back to the place where you’ve had such an important milestone in your career?

I’m very excited to come back and fight in Singapore. I consider Singapore to be like a second home for me. And it was such a great experience last year in May, winning the belt against Shinya Aoki and it’s just so ironic that (I’ve) come back to Singapore to make my first Lightweight Title defense as well; very excited and looking forward to being back in Singapore.

Your last fight was more than a year ago, what is the feeling coming back after such a long absence, are there more nerves?

You know, early on in my career I would feel that if I took a long break and then (came) back, there was a bit of ring rust. 

But now sixteen fights later, I feel that the layoff has really just allowed me to rest my body, rest my mind and rejuvenate(d) me. Now coming back into this fight on Oct 30th, I feel more motivated than ever, my body feels stronger than ever, and I’m just more than anything, excited to get back into the ONE circle and compete again.

ONE Championship Christian Lee: Walkout
Christian will be coming out to defend his Lightweight Title against Iuri Lapicus

You’ll be defending the belt against Iuri Lapicus who is currently undefeated, do you have a game plan in mind to break that record?

Iuri Lapicus — he’s a very dangerous opponent. I think that this match is going to be very exciting for the fans because he’s a finisher. He’s 14-0, he’s finished every single one of his opponents, so I feel that when the cage door shuts, he’s going to bring the fight right towards me and we are going to clash right in the middle, so it’s definitely going to make for an early finish.

ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX will be the first sporting event in Singapore to allow for a limited live audience. 250 in-person ‘Superfan’ ticket packages will be made available to the public for sale at S$148 that comes with a safe seating plan as well as the additional special ONE Championship branded merchandise worth over $60.

Five lucky ticket holders also have a chance to win JBL Reflect Flow True Wireless Sports Earphones that are worth over $230 each. Tickets are available at until they sell out.

You can also see Christian Lee’s bout with Iuri Lapicus live along with five other fights in the ONE cage on Friday, 30 October through the ONE Championship official ONE Super App, ONE’s social media channels, or on MediaCorp’s Channel 5 and meWATCH app.

Visuals courtesy of ONE Championship.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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