'Speed and accuracy' give dad-to-be Lee win in 73 secs

One lightweight world champion Christian Lee showing his prowess on his way to retaining his belt with a technical knockout win over Russian Timofey Nastyukhin at the One on TNT II event yesterday.
One lightweight world champion Christian Lee showing his prowess on his way to retaining his belt with a technical knockout win over Russian Timofey Nastyukhin at the One on TNT II event yesterday.PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Christian Lee silenced his critics after he made short work of Russian Timofey Nastyukhin at the One on TNT II event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday.

Lee, 22, needed just 73 seconds to retain his One Championship lightweight (up to 77kg) world title.

Nastyukhin, 31, had entered the fight with a reputation as a fearsome competitor. He famously knocked out former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator world champion Eddie Alvarez in the American's One Championship debut in March 2019, punching him so hard that his left eyelid split in half.

But Lee, who has a Singaporean father and a South Korean mother and fights under the Singapore flag in One, emerged from the bout with barely a mark on his face after executing his game plan perfectly.

After unsuccessfully shooting for takedowns in the opening 30 seconds, he then patiently waited for an opening to strike on his feet, finding his distance. When he did, he caught Nastyukhin with a left hook, sending the Russian tumbling to the mat.

Lee then followed up by walloping Nastyukhin with 14 shots to the side of the head. Referee Mohamad Sulaiman was heard commanding the Russian to cover up and show that he was capable of defending the shots, but with no attempt being made, the official had little choice but to step in and call a stop to the fight.

Lee said: "Timofey is a dangerous opponent and he always goes for the knockout, so our game plan was just to capitalise on that.

"Speed and accuracy beat power. That's what happened today."

He and his sister Angela, 24, One's atomweight world champion, are among One's most touted stars, although some critics have suggested their successes are down to the Singapore-based MMA organisation over-hyping their abilities.

On these critics, Lee said after his win: "A lot of times in this sport, people speak before they really understand what's going on.

"There are a lot of people that support me and I'm sure there are a lot of people that doubt me as well. I just take it all in and keep working hard.

"Every fight I'm just trying to get better, and I'm really not too worried about anything negative that anyone has to say."

Lee, whose wife Katie is due to deliver their daughter Alia in two weeks, dedicated the win to his family watching back home in Hawaii, where he is based.

One on TNT II is part of a series of events One is broadcasting "live" on prime time in North America on cable network TNT, as part of a big push into the American market.

The One on TNT I card event last week, which featured former UFC stars Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson, reportedly averaged 196,000 viewers over the course of the two-hour broadcast. One's events are also broadcast live on its mobile app and YouTube channel.

Said Lee: "I couldn't have asked for a better story. I trained 10 very hard weeks leading up to this match and this was the most important fight of my life.

"Very soon, I'm gonna become a father, so this fight is dedicated to my baby Alia on the way and my wife Katie back at home.

"It's very hard to go away and leave them but later this month we'll be having our first baby, so this fight was for them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2021, with the headline ''Speed and accuracy' give dad-to-be Lee win in 73 secs'. Subscribe