Martin Nguyen

Photo via Martin Nguyen Facebook page

Martin Nguyen on ONE Championship return and Javelin legacy

Martin Nguyen tests skills against Kim Jae Woong at ONE: Revolution. The featherweight fight goes down at Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, September 24th.

I spoke with the former multi-division world champion ahead of this anticipated return to the Circle. Excerpts from our chat are below.

Martin Nguyen

The recent work for Martin Nguyen at Sanford MMA

“Man, training has been awesome. Training under Sanford MMA it’s like, every day is so surreal. But it’s so challenging at the same time.”

The main sparring partners for this one and the varied framework with the sparring rounds

“Everything is dynamic. I worked around with my main partner Sean Soriano, a UFC fighter…A lot of bodies, different styles, very dynamic. It made me kind of adjust. Just go with the flow, you know. I know what my opponent is going to do and I know the type of fighter he is. It’s all about me adjusting and preparing well for him.”

The multitude of frustrating bout cancellations and the catharsis this contest could bring

“It was twice. I was meant to be on ONE on TNT two or three. Then that got rescheduled because of close contact to TNT IV. That was unbelievable. Unbelievable but I’d say kind of a blessing in disguise. It gave me a bit more time to recoup. Just to sharpen up my skillset. There’s no excuses on my end. Come fight night, I’m gonna give it my all. And I’m gonna show the world why I’m still one of the best in the world.”

Having a bit of a hiatus now and the new skills Martin Nguyen has accrued since last fighting

“Yeah, definitely. It has been a long time, almost a year itself. In saying that, it’s almost been a year since the champion has defended. So look man, we’re kind of rocking like the same boat. I was scheduled twice at the start of the year to compete and I was ready both times. It’s just unfortunate situations. Insane that this will techncially be my third bout this year.”

ONE: Revolution

Being the champ for years and Martin Nguyen’s reaction realizing he wasn’t fighting for the title

“At the start of the year when I wasn’t offered that fight. I was kind of amazed. Kind of let down, but it didn’t really get to me too much. Because I knew it came down to a factor. I knew it came down to that fight with Garry (Tonon) and Koyomi Matsushima. And so in saying that, if Garry had lost that fight against Matsushima, then I would have thought that I would have got the rematch. Because it made it more clear. It was just the clear decision to make. But Garry, he won that.”

“He’s on a five or six-fight winning streak. It kind of made a bit more sense to give him a shot. When is that shot gonna happen? We don’t know. I’m like having a fight before then. I’d say this would be a clear next contender for the title shot. We’ll see what happens.”

If there’s a relief to be found in returning to the ONE Circle from a bit of a dormant period

“If anything it’s motivated me more than relief. Losing that title to my own mistake. I mean good on Thanh (Le) for the timing. He did what he had to do to get the title. But I lost that. Because I didn’t respect the title. I didn’t respect all my hard work of getting that title. I came to throw down, not care about getting injured or anything. And Thanh came to win.”

“I just kind of let myself down in that aspect. If anything it has motivated me to fight smarter. Come more prepared and be a better athlete. These times off, I’m still training. This will be basically two and a half camps this year. In terms of ring rust, there’s no such thing in my eyes.”

Journey in the ONE Circle and the future focus on a sole weight category

Being with ONE for close to seven years now and the mutual growth

“I’m just thankful. Obviously, we all fight for money and we all fight to prepare ourselves for the future. Get settled and that. But from the get-go, Chatri (Sityodtong) has been a very nice person towards not only me but also towards my wife and my family.”

“That means a lot. I know there’s some promoters out there that probably don’t give a shit about their fighters. But I can say for a fact that Chatri is not one of these guys. From the get go, ONE Championship has looked after my family. Heavily involved my family in everything that we do. In terms of promotions and everything like that, my family gets involved.”

“It’s not just about the athlete because the athlete is only just one little piece. For me, my core values, and my core motivation is my family and they use that. We’re all growing together and for me, my family’s everything.”

The former lightweight champion not looking to return back to that weight category

“Yeah, man. Why would I want to give my opponents a full seven-kilo advantage? Minimum five-kilo advantage. That’s huge, man. If they really want to fight me, then by all means. Meet me halfway. Why would I completely go up and put myself, my life, and my body at danger? When I walk around such a light weight. Just to prove ego? I don’t need that.”

“I don’t need that in my life. I’d rather fight at featherweight for the rest of my life and be happy. But if they really want to challenge me, meet me halfway. Do a bit of a weight cut and meet me at 73 kilos, whatever it is… We’ll see what happens, man.”

ONE Championship

Emerging victorious against Christian Lee previously and thoughts on Lee’s title run

“Nah, Christian’s a great champion. He’s done his own thing. Grown as an athlete. He’s grown in general, he’s gotten better. Gotten stronger and he’s got good people around him…Done his thing. He’s got the title and has defended it multiple times now. Me going up to lightweight to get that title, that’s an ego challenge. I’m not about that.”

“If Christian wants to get that third bout going, he knows where to find me. If he says he can still cut down to featherweight then I’m here. I’m not running anywhere. If you want to fight me, come back down to where I beat you.”

Having contended for the ONE bantamweight belt and also not intending to return to 135 lbs

“Yeah, featherweight is where I feel healthiest and strongest. Most at ease. The first bantamweight cut that I did against Bibiano (Fernandes), I felt amazing. I just didn’t have the skills to back it up and close the show when I was ahead. That’s where Bibiano’s experience came in. The second cut down to bantamweight, I was fighting for my life basically. Based on how I felt.”

Multi-sport athleticism

Martin Nguyen maintaining a Javelin record at his school for 20 years now and where that ranks in terms of his overall athletic accomplishments

“Two decades is huge, man! (laughs) As a boy, a 12-year-old boy that did not care about throwing that javelin. I only threw it because I wanted to be with my friends in that class that was doing that at that time. They said, if you want to do it you’ll have to participate. Otherwise, move on to the next station. Which I think was like shotput or something like that.”

“So I said, I’ll throw it. I don’t care. I did the run-up, threw it, and I walked off. They said it was the longest throw of the day. They had done the calculations afterward. Throughout the records and I had the record. Yeah, it was crazy. I was like, what?! I didn’t even mean to do it. (laughs)”

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