KEY POINTS

  • Christian Lee successfully defended his lightweight crown by knocking out Timofey Nastyukhin at "ONE on TNT II"
  • Lee recently proclaimed himself as the No. 1 lightweight in the world
  • Some members of the MMA community took offense to Lee's bold claim

Christian Lee needed just 73 seconds to dispatch Russian contender Timofey Nastyukhin in the main event of "ONE on TNT II" on Wednesday to keep his intricately-crafted lightweight belt around his waist.

It was another masterful performance from Lee, who remained patient and picked his shots against the hard-hitting Nastyukhin.

Lee rocked Nastyukhin with a well-timed counter left hook before finishing things off with a barrage of strikes on the ground.

Courtesy of his most recent performance, the 22-year old has extended his winning streak to six bouts, which includes dominant victories over ONE Championship's lightweight household names such as Nastyukhin, Shinya Aoki, Iuri Lapicus and Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev.

In an interview with MMA Fighting, Lee proclaimed himself as the best lightweight in mixed martial arts (MMA) today. This declaration made by the Singaporean-American has raised quite a few eyebrows.

But while Lee is without a doubt the No. 1 lightweight in his home promotion, where does he actually rank in the world? 

That’s where it becomes tricky since ONE Championship lightweights aren’t considered lightweights in other organizations.

ONE Championship's lightweight division limit is at 77.1 kilograms or 170 pounds, which is welterweight in other leagues such as the UFC, Bellator, PFL and BRAVE CF.

Lee is currently ranked as the 77th-best 170-pounder in the world by MMA statistics database website Tapology. 

Furthermore, "The Warrior" hasn't beaten a Top 20-ranked opponent in both lightweight and welterweight brackets.

So what can Lee do to prove that he is, indeed, the No. 1 lightweight in the sport? 

Christian Lee Christian Lee Photo: ONE Championship

Whatever that is, he won’t be able to do it as part of ONE Championship. If Lee wants to establish that he is the top 155-pounder in the world, he’ll need to compete outside of Asia and challenge lightweights who are not on the active roster of his current employer.

Unfortunately, it won’t be an easy task, logistically speaking, given that not a lot of MMA organizations are too keen on cross-promotions these days. 

One outfit that’s open to inter-promotional super-fights, however, is Bellator. It just so happens that the company has one of the best lightweights in MMA right now in Patricio “Pitbull” Friere. 

If ONE Championship and Bellator can get on the same page and pull off such a matchup, it would definitely be an intriguing clash.

Moreover, if Lee can get past "Pitbull," he does vault up the world lightweight rankings by quite a bit. No, it likely won’t land him in the Top 10, but it should be enough to get the MMA community to take notice.