Tyson Nam stopped Jerome Rivera at UFC Fight Night on September 19th. Nam is now back in Hawaii in the midst of a second lockdown that the governor put them on. He’s at home now chilling for his 14-day quarantine and said, “The sun is out and just enjoying life.”. Quite the turnaround from when Nam felt like he was fighting for his job in the early part of this summer.
Below are several excerpts from my recent conversation with Tyson Nam.
Earlier in the summer, it seemed like you had this perception that you were fighting for your job. But now you’ve got these great back to back victories put together. Can you characterize just where you’re at now and the arc of what you went through?
“Yeah, it was almost heartbreaking after my second loss. Which I don’t feel like I lost that fight. But any which way on top of paper, when you’re going down 0-2 you’re kind of thinking that at any moment, now you’re going to get a call that you won’t be fighting for the UFC. But once they gave me a contract for a third fight, I was feeling very blessed. Then the pandemic hit and all I could do was actually train just full time. And I feel like that is the winning recipe for me to be winning these UFC fights,. All work and just train every day.”
The opponent switch pre-fight
“I’ve been doing this professionally for about 14 years now. There’s not gonna be a lot of techniques that I have not already seen. Even though this sport is evolving, by the second I feel like I have enough experience enough fights under my belt that I can put together a game plan within a day or two against any opponent that they put up in front of me.”
Hitting a career stride
I remember interviewing you for a college radio show I had at the time, it was just after you’d got that victory over Eduardo Dantas and you really shot yourself onto a lot of other people’s radars. You’ve obviously developed a wealth of experience even since then. And it seems like you’re hitting, the best stride of your career so far. What do you credit to all of that? Has all of this just been like a compounding sort of journey where you’ve learned a tremendous amount of lessons all throughout each kind of step in the journey?
“Well, I live by the 10,000 rep rule, or 10 years, so after 10,000 reps or 10 years, you actually master that skill. And it’s been a little bit over 10 years. So if, I have not been able to get good at this trade, damn I’ve been wasting my time. But I do attribute it to just living professionally, inside and outside of the cage, you know. I work out every day, even though I don’t have a fight.”
Nam continued, “I try to eat as healthy as possible, so that my weight doesn’t get out of hand. And, you know, when fight time comes, I’m all business there’s no messing around. So just living a little bit more disciplined than your average Joe, I feel like has really prolonged my career. And, I feel that this age that I’m finally, I’m actually hitting my peak now, instead of actually going downhill for some odd reason.”
High fight IQ from experience while also maintaining all the athletic tools
“Oh, yeah. Now that you mentioned that. So I would like to say that if you can preserve your body, till when you hit your man strength, they usually say like around your early to mid 30s is when you hit that. That man strength, that peak. But usually, by the time that a lot of athletes get to that stage, their body is already all broken down from previous years of whether it’s sports or just life in general. But when I actually look at it, like a majority of my friends that do MMA they wrestled growing up, which I didn’t do just because basketball was the first love of my life.”
Tyson Nam continued, “And I mean, everybody knows that, if you wrestle, you’re coming out with a broken body, you know. Knee, shoulders, back neck is all just jacked up after literally just a high school career. Let alone if you went on to college and kept on with it. So for myself, I feel like I’m very fortunate that well, not fortunate. But I did not wrestle so I did not sustain all those types of bodily injuries. You would if you wrestled on a day to day basis for however many years. I’m even more blessed that I’m at this age with knowledge and experience. I feel like my body actually works just as good as any of these 20-year-olds.”
Tyson Nam competing at flyweight and bantamweight
“I do my best work at flyweight it was just unfortunate that these past two fights was short notice for my opponents. Which are actually flyweights but with that short notice, they won’t be able to make that flyweight mark. So that’s why we had that catchweight at bantamweight instead. But yeah, I’m a flyweight. I’m not trying to compete with these full-fledged, bantamweights just because Fight Night comes in and when you’re outweighed by about 10 or 15 pounds, that’s a huge advantage toward their side.”
Tyson Nam continued, “But for myself since I’m a bigger flyweight. Fight night comes, I’m usually bigger, heavier, stronger. Which I feel is a mental edge in, at least in my mind and the way that I fight. Flyweight is where I’m at.”
Tyson Nam and the flyweight class at large
“Fire. Every time a flyweight bout happens, man, it’s just a scorcher. Whenever you’re seeing them. They’re flying around. They’re punching, they’re kicking, they’re jumping at each other. They’re throwing up submissions scrambling on the ground. I mean, to me, it’s one of the most exciting classes because these guys don’t get tired, you know.”
“And it’s action from start to finish. But yeah, especially with big names like Cody Garbrandt coming in and putting the flyweight division on top of the map just with the star power that he has. I mean, it’s great all the way from top to bottom champion all the way through number 15. You will not find a slouch up in there.”
A possible Tyson Nam vs Joseph Benavidez fight
“Yeah, if you’re not a fan of Joseph Benavidez, you’re probably not a fan of MMA. He’s been doing it for so long. And in every promotion that he’s fought in he was like, top five for well over a decade. No matter what weight class or what promotion that he was fighting in. What more intrigued me was that. Well, he didn’t have any fight scheduled. We share a common opponent Ali Bagautinov. We’re similar in age. And you know, I cannot see a moment in the fight to where people will not be yelling and screaming. Because it’s just so damn exciting between the both of us.”
That would be Fight of the Night. That’s like a performance of the night bonus for sure, in my estimation.
“Yeah, someone is definitely getting finished during that fight. I mean, Joseph he’s not a runner. He’s a fighter. He’s always pushing to finish fights. And I mean, it ain’t no surprise what I like to do. I just like to punch people’s heads off.”