Just two weeks after his record-breaking knockout in Macau, “The Underdog” Li Kai Wen is preparing to compete in ONE Championship again.
The Chinese warrior took just 10 seconds to score a stunning knockout of Rodian Menchavez at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, and left the ring without a scratch.
As a result, he was offered a bout against fellow featherweight contender Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER, which takes place at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, 13 July.
“I decided to take the fight, while my team and coaches objected,” he says.
“I have been systematically training since January, and I was fortunate to end my fight with Rodian early and not get hurt. Therefore, it is just like prolonging my training camp.
“Also, I am a ONE employee, and my attitude has always been never to back away from a fight.
“Even the CEO (Victor Cui) asked me whether I would be willing to fight in Kuala Lumpur when he congratulated me after my victory. How could I say no?”
Li’s latest victory was the fastest in the history of ONE’s featherweight division.
A quick start was part of the plan, though when asked if he expected to be in and out quite so quickly, Li admits it was a something of a surprise.
“My game plan was to use my aggression and explosiveness, and to make a statement in the first couple of exchanges of the fight. I wanted to see how he would react,” he says.
“I believe every fighter has visualised a quick finish in their head. I would not say that I expected it against Rodian, but yes, I visualised it.”
Now, the Tianjin Top Team product must turn his attention to Urrutia, who should provide a far tougher test.
The American, who trains out of Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand, made a strong first impression when he debuted in ONE last year with a unanimous decision victory against Edward Kelly.
He then stunned fans when he knocked out Bruno Pucci in the first round in January – immediately emerging as one of the best athletes in the weight class.
Li recognises he will have his work cut out when he meets “The Honey Badger” in Malaysia.
“Emilio is a formidable opponent. He is a seasoned veteran. He is strong and powerful, and he has good ground skills. He is a very well-rounded mixed martial artist,” he explains.
“On the other hand, I also possess these skills, and I am an up-and-coming young lion.
“This will be a barn burner of a fight. It will be ‘Fight Of The Night’ – even a ‘Fight Of The Year’ candidate.
“Emilio and I are friends on Facebook, and we share many mutual friends. He and I both agreed to entertain the fans.”
If “The Underdog” gets his hand raised, there is likely to be serious talk about his future as a contender for Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen’s ONE Featherweight World Title.
That is exactly what the 22-year-old asked for following his last bout, but that will have to wait, for now. He explains there is only one thing on his mind now that he has signed to face someone else.
“Like I said in the interview, Martin is a great champion, and I am a great challenger. I feel that I am not that far from a title shot, but I do not want to think about Martin now. My focus is on Emilio,” he says.
Another win on Friday against Urrutia could mean his focus quickly returns to Nguyen.