“The Warrior” faces Timofey Nastyukhin in the main event of One on TNT 2, seeking to equal the record for successful title defenses set by the man he defeated to earn the belt, Shinya Aoki. Having debuted in One as a teenager and conducted his entire 17-fight professional career there, Lee is indisputably the promotion’s greatest homegrown star. In fact, with the recent setbacks suffered by Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez and Nong Stamp, a pretty good case could be made that the fiery 22-year-old is One’s biggest star, period — or well on his way there, at least.
Lightweight is perhaps the deepest and most competitive weight class in MMA worldwide, and One Championship’s division is no exception. The title has been defended on a fairly regular basis since its inception over eight years ago, and there is a queue of credible contenders churning at all times. Whoever emerges victorious from Wednesday’s title fight will have a full dance card for the foreseeable future, as the last several divisional champs are all still around and in or near their prime. There is also the question of Martin Nguyen, the former two-division champ who seems to have settled back in at featherweight, but owns two wins over Lee. If Lee remains champion for long, there is a grudge match there for the making.
Here is the history of the One Championship lightweight title and the times it was won, lost or defended. It tells the story of a division that has been a powerhouse since the beginning, and now may be poised for a lengthy rule by one of the promotion’s anointed.
Ben Duffy/Sherdog.com illustration