Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen has had one of the most remarkable years for any martial artist in 2017 as he became the first athlete in ONE Championship history to hold world titles in two weight classes simultaneously.
His year began with a bang in January 2017 at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER as he finished former title challenger Kazunori Yokota, handing the Japanese veteran his first knockout loss in seven years to declare his readiness for a title rematch with his old nemesis Marat Gafurov.
Nguyen’s second encounter with Gafurov took seven months later at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS as he survived an early rear-naked choke scare and exacted revenge on the previously-unbeaten Russian world champion, stunning him with a one-punch knockout to capture the ONE Featherweight World Title.
Having completed his quest to avenge his 2015 loss to Gafurov and claim featherweight gold, Nguyen turned his attention to the weight class above, where he challenged Filipino national hero Eduard “Landslide” Folayang for the ONE Lightweight World Championship at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD in November 2017.
Despite having to step up a division to take on the bigger and stronger man, Nguyen was more than up to the task as he produced a sensational performance to dramatically and spectacularly knock out Folayang in the second round.
“2017 was a big year for me. I won three-straight bouts, including two world title contests. I am so blessed and thankful to be in this position right now,” he said.
However, Nguyen failed to emulate his 2017 magic when he tried becoming an unprecedented three-weight titleholder by challenging ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for the gold in late March this year.
Although Nguyen gave the Brazilian legend all he could handle in a thrilling five-round encounter, he fell on the wrong side of a razor-thin split decision.
“It was razor-thin. I just have to accept that on that day, the judges gave the victory to him. I have moved forward already,” he shared.
Nguyen might have opened his 2018 on a disappointing note, but the two-division kingpin assured that he still has his Midas Touch in the sport of mixed martial arts.
“It’s a process that I have to digest in order to grow in this evolving sport. I was not injured after the fight against Bibiano. I did not have any broken bones. I was fine and fresh. That says a lot about me,” he stated.
The 29-year-old Vietnamese-Australian dynamo will make his first title defense of the ONE Featherweight World Championship against Christian “The Warrior” Lee in a rematch at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in Singapore on Friday, 18 May.
“I am looking forward to defending my legacy. I want to stay as active as possible, and I am excited for this fight,” Nguyen declared.
Both men initially crossed paths in August 2016 when Nguyen beat the then-undefeated Singaporean prospect by sending him to sleep with a modified guillotine choke with just 30 seconds remaining in the first round.
Nguyen and Lee have grown tremendously since their epic clash nearly two years ago as they have matured and expanded their skillset.
Since his yielding to Nguyen, Lee proceeded to go on a four-bout win streak, most recently submitting Yokota this past March with his “Terminator Guillotine.”
Nguyen acknowledged his rival’s startling progression and believes that he has done enough to warrant a crack at the featherweight crown
“I believe he has evolved into a new fighter,” he offered. “Sometimes. it takes a loss to realize our true potential, and he has worked his way back up the ranks.”
Nguyen pointed out that he has the chance to make a definitive statement as he is slated to take on a familiar foe at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS on Friday.
“I don’t think it will go the distance, no,” he suggested. “How would I like to finish it? Obviously I’d like to put him to sleep again, but you never know.”
“I’ll leave everything in God’s hands. We’re both coming for the finish and we’re both rapid fighters where we gun for every opportunity. Come Friday night, it will be a matter of who capitalizes on the first mistake,” Nguyen added.
According to Nguyen, his five-round featherweight championship clash versus Lee is the perfect opportunity to prove once and for all that he is the better warrior.
“In this kind of profession, you will have ups and downs. But if you will ask me, I do not want to look back. I am looking forward to reaching my goals. There will be no excuses from my end,” he ended.