Bi Nguyen

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Bi Nguyen Talks Atomweight Depth, Lin Heqin, and ONE: Bad Blood

Bi Nguyen tests skills with Lin Heqin on February 11th at ONE: Bad Blood. The atomweight affair transpires at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

I spoke with Nguyen ahead of this clash and excerpts from our chat are below.


How Bi Nguyen unwinds when not training

“I really just clean, cook, and read. I do a lot of writing also, a lot of journaling. Just chill, old lady stuff.”

Taking a brief step away from fighting towards the end of last year to revitalize enthusiasms for her 2022 campaign

“It feels good. The older you are, the more balance you need in your life. And also, you can chase and chase. The chase is great and you could keep chasing for so long that you don’t really even see what’s going on anymore. So you need to take a step back sometimes and get a greater perspective. I did just that and I feel good now.”

What Bi Nguyen was getting up to during that aforementioned period away from MMA

“Honestly, I was saying I was decompressing. I was trying to decompress. I had a great break from fighting. But I was actually shooting two TV projects. So I was working quite hard during that time. But it was nice to not get punched and thrown around for a while.”

“It’s pretty hush hush but I will say one of them is a pretty cool martial arts type of show. Reality show that is brand new. So so no one would know what it is. For Discovery Channel coming out pretty soon, so that was fun. The other one is total hush hush. But it’s been fun taking my years of experience and my knowledge elsewhere.”

Bi Nguyen

The main sparring partners for Bi Nguyen heading into this next fight

“The past couple of years I’ve done my camps at Xtreme Couture in (Las) Vegas. My training partners are Cynthia Calvillo, Kyra Batara, Tiani Valle. Casey King, Casey O’Neill. So quite good girls. And what’s great for me is they’re all great grapplers. Everybody knows me as a striker, but nobody knows what I can do. Well, I guess now in my last fight I showcased some groundwork. So it’s really helping me explore new areas of my game.”

Appreciating the growth she was able to showcase in her grappling last time out against Jenelyn Olsim despite Bi Nguyen not securing the W

“Yeah, for sure. I mean, if any fighter can represent process, it’s probably me. My record doesn’t reflect the fights that I’ve been in and the level that I fight at. I started fighting when women didn’t have any venues to fight at and barely any opponents. So I definitely pride myself in what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced. I see fighting as an art. So I’ve just traveled and picked up knowledge. So I definitely credit every single person along the way.”

Bi Nguyen being a tenured atomweight within ONE and if that weight category is now the deepest it has ever been

“Oh, I love it. I love it because it doesn’t leave question anymore. So when Angela (Lee) was coming up, I mean it was interesting. And that’s when I started coming in. It was interesting. Even when I got into ONE I was like Oh, that’s interesting. Atomweights seem ok. Because Angela wasn’t fighting any competition at that point. So now the division being so stacked and so skilled. Me being part of it, I’m pretty proud of that.”

“Because now we solidified what atomweights can do and what women can do. And for me, obviously if you know me more importantly, what women can do. Especially in the Asian circuit. So I’m just super proud that our weight class (is) one of the oldest ones. I feel like as a veteran I’m just proud of the showcase of talent.”

ONE: Bad Blood

Other consequential atomweight clashes on ONE: Bad Blood

“It’s funny, when I see cards, I’m like, Oh, I fought her. I fought her, oh I fought them, they’re fighting each other. I’m like alright, I’ve pretty much fought the top 10. Me and Itsuki (Hirata) had our run-ins. Never happened but it’s really interesting. I’m actually really, really interested in watching the Jenelyn Olsim and Jihin (Radzuan) fight. It’s a good one.”

If Bi Nguyen checks out other fights of divisional importance during events she’s competing on

“If you know me, maybe this is my downfall or maybe it’s whatever but it is who I am. I’m super relaxed. I’m just having fun doing what I love. During fight week, you’ll see behind-the-scenes videos of me cracking jokes and hanging out. So once I get the job done, I’m going to hang out and enjoy the fights. Especially enjoy watching two girls and how they fare against each other. Ones that I’ve fought. I think it’s a great match-up too with Jihin and Jenelyn.”

Thoughts on the upcoming Angela Lee vs Stamp Fairtex Atomweight title fight at ONE X

“Yeah, everybody knows I was rooting for Stamp. I was rooting for Stamp to win because I think out of the entire division. Denice (Zamboanga) would have been interesting, but I think Stamp has what it takes. But I’ve seen a lot of moms bounce back for some reason, just rejuvenated like Mackenzie Dern. She’s just a monster now after her baby. And Michelle Waterson did the same thing.”

“I’m interested in seeing how Angela has changed. It’s kind of hard for me to even do predictions. But so far from what I’ve seen from Angela (Lee), Stamp is a force and Angela has cracked a few times under pressure. So we’ll see. But who knows? We might see a new Angela. I’m still rooting for Stamp though. I mean, I’m just a fan. After sharing a war like that, you just become each other’s fans, you know?”

ONE Championship

ONE Championship instantiating 50k performance bonuses and how that fits Bi Nguyen’s style well

“Yeah, I love it. Because looking back on my fights, I should have gotten like six of them. It’s kind of what I’m known for, you know. So I’m pretty excited about it. Although it’s coming at a time where I’m evolving as a fighter. And I’m not looking to give you exciting fights as much as I’m looking to win.”

“Thinking about it, if it was me and Stamp’s fight, we probably would have gotten it. But I’m not looking at it too much. I’m just excited fighters are getting paid more. I think it’s long overdue. But for me, the win will just be sugar enough. It’d be good enough for me.”

If there’s a detriment in a certain regard to having such an exciting style whereby you’re facing all the killers in the division sequentially

“Absolutely. I’ve been doing favors to the promotion and the fans for putting on exciting fights. But I’ve been letting myself down. I walk away with half the cheque. I walk away with losses on my record when we all know that I can do better. So for me, the growth is not fighting emotionally so much. Some people are martial artists. Some people are fighters. I’m a natural-born fighter. So I’m evolving now into a martial artist. Using my fight IQ a little more in my fight.”

Being a longtime ONE fighter and the feelings of seeing that mutual growth with her as well as the company overall

“For me personally, I’ve had a following in America since I’ve been fighting and I love it. But what’s really gratifying now is the love I get in Asia. For me, mostly in Vietnam. I’ve always said that I wanted to fight to where I have a platform so I can help others. Now that I’m known in Asia, it’s so much easier for me to make an impact. To help these nonprofits that I work with in Vietnam and things like that. So that’s the power that I’ve been seeking. And I’m glad that ONE has given me that opportunity to make a real difference.”

“One of the biggest nonprofits I work with is in Vietnam, and they’re called Saigon Children. They build schools and offer scholarships. All through grade school, college and help these young girls and these young boys get a job. Coming from families where they have to do labor or be sold off or married off. Essentially saving lives. I love that project. And I love that nonprofit. So we’ve been doing a lot of work together.”

Nguyen vs Heqin

Thoughts on the main stylistic proclivities of Lin Heqin leading into ONE: Bad Blood

“I think that she’s a counter striker, she’s long, she’s tall. She’s strong, but that’s no news to me. I wasn’t impressed with the groundwork. I think she survived because Ritu (Phogat) made a few slight mistakes with the control on top. But I think if I just stay tight and take her down, I think it’ll be a good night for me.”

“Yeah, she has a great record so it’ll be a good fight for me. But I think that again as we said, records don’t reflect. I’ve only seen her fight maybe like two or three notable people. So I’m not taking that into account. I just got to watch out for her length and her striking and I think I’ll be okay.”

Fighting on multiple pre-taped ONE Championship cards, the dynamics with that, and being back to having her bout live broadcasted for this one

“I love it. I mean, the pre-tape thing takes all the excitement out of it for me. A lot of it anyway. The whole process of fighting is exciting. It being live and it’s one of the best parts. So I’m really excited about it. Super stoked about the bonus, super stoked about the live. I think we’re heading back in a good direction where we were.”

People hitting her up for spoilers from those pre-tape cards but being coy

“(laughs) I was really, really good at it. So it’s always good when, I guess it’s good both ways. I mean, I won but I think it’s good on her end too. Of knowing how to market and how to go about it, you know?”

Parting thoughts for Bi Nguyen

“No, I think that’s it. I’m just excited to get back in there. Honestly, this fight I’m promoting less and I’m talking about it less because this one’s gonna be for me. I think I’ve given a lot to the sport and a lot to the fans. This one, I’m just gonna go in there and do it for me. Hopefully, I can perform my best.”

author avatar
Dylan Bowker
I've been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I've hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I've been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I've provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I've worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.