Thanh Le gunning to KO Ilya Freymanov and take interim world title

By BJPENN.COM Staff - October 5, 2023

Thanh Le wants to make a resounding statement in his quest to regain the ONE Featherweight MMA World Title.

Thanh Le

Le will collide with Ilya Freymanov for the division’s interim strap in the headliner of ONE Fight Night 15 on Prime Video. The event airs live in U.S. primetime from Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, October 6.

After losing the belt to Tang Kai in August 2022, he immediately set his sights on redemption.

Le had a scheduled rematch with Tang last July. However, fate had other plans as the Chinese superstar withdrew due to a knee injury.

But Le didn’t let this setback deter him. Instead, he embraced the opportunity to stay active in preparation for the ultimate showdown with the lineal champion.

“You’ve got to keep the division going. You’ve got to keep the title fights going to keep everything moving. Because having it stale for a year plus is an issue for the company and for us [contenders] lingering at the top,” he said.

“Ilya’s name came up, and I knew that fight was eventually going to happen no matter what. Whether I beat Tang Kai and was champion, or maybe I had to work my way back, I knew it was going to happen.”

With 26 pounds of gold on the line, Le is focusing on securing victory in the most decisive manner possible.

The Owensboro, Kentucky, native plans on knocking out Freymanov, and he’s not hedging his bets.

“I’ll give you a two-part prediction. I think if he comes out, feels a little bit of movement and power and doesn’t change his game plan, then it’ll be a first-rounder,” Le said.

“If he is a smart fighter, if he makes his adjustments and doesn’t get put out early, I think it’s maybe a late third-round finish. But it’s going to be a finish.”

Thanh Le not looking past Ilya Freymanov

Despite his clear vision for victory, Thanh Le is not underestimating Ilya Freymanov.

Le knows how dangerous it is to look past an opponent, especially when the tides can quickly turn.

“He’s very good. He’s done some damage in the division, so that’s very appealing to me that he puts a hurting on people. He comes forward. He’s aggressive. He’s very skilled. So it’s really nice to get a name like that,” Le said.

However, he offers a word of caution to the Russian standout. Le wants Freymanov to understand that he is not just facing any foe; he’s squaring off with a former champion on a mission to reclaim his throne.

“Now, since it’s a title fight, Freymanov sees me as a way to get to the title, but even before that, he saw it as, ‘Hey, this dude was champion. I’ve got to beat him and he’s going to get me to my dreams,’” Le said.

“But this is everything I’ve worked for, and it’s obviously the most important thing to him too. So he’s going to get the best Thanh Le, I am guaranteed to get the best Ilya, and it’s going to make for fireworks.”

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


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