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The List: 3 flawless performances that earned Tang Kai featherweight world title shot at ONE 160

Ahead of his clash with reigning champion Thanh Le in Singapore, take a look at some of Tang Kai's top moments in the ONE circle.

Tang Kai (14-2) has displayed a myriad of traits that show he is the man to beat in ONE Championship’s featherweight division. 

The Chinese phenom has steadily worked his way up the ranks since making his promotional debut in 2019. Currently, he holds a 14-2 career record, owns an 86 percent knockout rate, and finds himself on a nine-fight winning streak.

On August 26, he’ll challenge ONE featherweight world champion Thanh Le (13-2) for the gold in the co-main event of "ONE 160: Ok vs. Lee II."

Before Tang makes his highly anticipated return, we look at three performances that helped him punch his ticket to a world title showdown.

1. Stunning head kick KO in debut

Tang’s tenure at the Singapore-based organization got off to a cracking start when he put Sung Jong Lee to sleep in January 2019.

In the opening round of their tussle, the Chinese superstar peppered his South Korean rival with jab-cross combinations and utilized his grappling defense to escape a submission attempt.

The 26-year-old started off the second frame with a similar plan, but as he began to push the pace in the stand-up department, it was clear Sung was walking on thin ice. 

Tang repeatedly found a way through his rival’s defense with blistering kicks and overhands. Ultimately, he landed a left kick to the temple that wobbled the South Korean and caused him to fall face-first onto the canvas.

2. Besting a fellow striking expert

After securing a pair of unanimous decision victories over Edward Kelly and Keanu Subba, Tang was looking to add to his gallery of knockouts at the expense of Japanese striker and Shooto Pacific Rim Champion Ryogo Takahashi in March 2021.

Takahashi showed his willingness to tango with his Chinese rival, and the two traded leather in close proximity as soon as the fight got underway.

However, every time the Japanese fighter loaded up a heavy punch, Tang evaded and countered with pinpoint accuracy. 

These tactics slowed Takahashi as the bout entered the second round, and Tang's confidence grew as he landed shot after shot. 

Tang soon caught his foe with a short right hand square on the jaw, and then drilled in a left hand, a hammer fist, and a bucketload of hooks to continue his blistering run through the featherweight division.

3. Stealing the top-ranked featherweight spot

In the lead-up to ONE X this past March, then top-ranked contender “The Fighting God” Kim Jae Woong boldly stated that he thought his Chinese foe's run of victories in ONE Championship had come purely by luck. 

He even viewed his battle with Tang as a warm-up fight en route to challenging for the ONE featherweight world championship.

However, that opportunity for ONE world title gold never came for the South Korean star, as Tang silenced him with a left hook only 127 seconds into their bout. 

Kim was the aggressor on this occasion, as he lunged in with a straight right. But Tang stood his ground and replied with a two-shot combination – the first strike grazed the South Korean, but the left hook that followed instantly put him to sleep.

With the emphatic victory, Tang stole the No. 1 contender’s spot and earned the next crack at the ONE featherweight world title at ONE 160.