Four months after turning 18 years old, Li Wei Bin made his MMA debut, but not the way fighters normally do nowadays.
Li Wei Bin entered a one-night four-man flyweight tournament at ONE FC 24 in December and came out victorious after tapping Hao Yi Jie in the semifinal and going the distance with Wang Wei later that night.
"It was the most exciting thing I've done in my life," Bin told MMAFighting.com about his wins on Dec. 19. "The thrill of proving that you are the best on that night. I'm very happy to emerge victorious."
Wang Wei, his opponent in the tournament final, fought Liu Xu for two full rounds to advance in the bracket, and Li Wei Bin believes that winning his first bout in less than three minutes helping him winning the tournament.
"That definitely played a part," he said. "I could get some rest in and I felt great heading out to the second bout. ... The only difference is that I had to make sure my cardio is at tip-top condition. I knew going in that I could be in the cage for two full fights so I was prepared for that and knew I had the cardio to perform better than my opponent.
"I know Hao Yi Jie was a good striker, so I looked for the takedown and brought him out of his element, successfully submitting him. In the finals, I knew Wang Wei was a decent ground fighter, so I fought to keep him standing. In the end, it all worked out in my favor. I am glad I am more well-rounded and able to exploit my opponent's weaknesses.
"I couldn’t have won this tournament without my coach, Zhang Zhan Jun. He was with me every day throughout this camp and arranged all my training," he added. "He supervised everything and pushed me hard when I needed it most. For this tournament, we did things differently than we usually do. Mornings we spent drilling Muay Thai, bag work, pads and sparring. The afternoons were spent drills ground fighting and weights. Evenings were spent drilling problems we thought might come up in this tournament."
Life hasn’t changed all that much for Li Wei Bin after his pair of wins in Beijing, but boosted the Chinese fighter's confidence. Hungry to get back in action, he already targets the top.
"My goal right now is to become the best flyweight from China in ONE FC," he said.
ONE FC 125-pound champion Adriano Moraes will put his title on the line against Asuka Mikami at March 13’s ONE FC 25 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but Li Wei Bin doesn’t eye a fast track to the championship.
"I am still at the beginning of my career and I want to continue to grow and evolve and develop," he said. "Adriano Moraes has proven that he is one of the best in the world, and I want to be absolutely sure I am ready before I step into the cage with a beast like that."