The recent announcements ONE Championship made regarding its esports and movie ventures have not only fans excited, but the promotion’s athletes as well.
Vietnamese-American Thanh Le is one of those athletes looking forward to what the future holds for the company. The 33-year-old featherweight is preparing to face Japan’s Kotetsu Boku on Friday, 16 August at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD in Bangkok, Thailand.
“It’s really interesting to see all these different moves that the company is making, but you are kind of seeing with ONE’s history they don’t just do things to take a shot at the dark, they do things that are well planned out,” Le said.
“It’s really nice to see them expand into esports, movies. It’s excellent to see that, as you know they are only going to do it the right way and it’s only going to do good things for the company; good things for the company means good things for the athletes,” Le added.
“It’s really exciting to see that they are not okay with just settling. They are moving, on pushing on, so it’s really good to have a company that represents that and also has the right morals to make it work. Competing is my main focus right now, but I would never close the door on an opportunity.”
The Louisiana native’s stock soared after his impressive promotional debut at ONE: FOR HONOR, scoring a stunning second-round knockout victory over tenacious Russian grappler Yusup Saadulaev which made everyone take notice of him.
While he was happy with the knockout, Le was also proud of his grappling. Because of his stand-up background, opponents saw his wrestling as his Achilles’ Heel. However, against Saadulaev, Le showed it was no longer the case.
“I was glad of the result that we got but [I was] really happy with the first round. Yusup is a strong grappler, highly skilled, and you are not able to see a lot of things from the outside or on the screen. I was a lot calmer than I usually am in the mix with high-level guys like that,” Le explained.
“We scrambled up, got back down, ended up in a crucifix which can be a very dangerous position. I worked my way out of that and ended up coming out strong in the second round, so I was really happy with that.”
Boku may not possess the same wrestling acumen that Saadulaev has, but Le knows he’s faced with a tough task.
“I know who he is, he has faced some of the best guys in the division and the best guys in the world really,” Le noted.
A win over Boku would not only set Le up for explosive clashes within the featherweight division, it could also boost his chances of competing on home soil. In 2020, ONE will look to hold its first show in the United States, and if Le can keep notching up wins, he may soon find himself competing in front of even more friends and family than usual.
“I would have a little bit more extended family come and watch. It’s awesome to be able to compete in front of a hometown crowd and not have a 12-14 hour time change. So that’s really cool,” Le said.
“It would be super exciting. You know that way ONE does things if it’s going to be in one of these markets it’s going to be in a huge market like Los Angeles, New York. Who knows what hall of fame type venues they are going to book, the Forum? Madison Square Garden? All these different spots where these shows could be held.”
If the future for ONE is looking bright, then it is shining as equally bright for the athletes on its roster. Whether it is inside or outside the ONE circle, Le is determined to make the most of whatever opportunities lie ahead.