ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR is shaping up to be a night of high drama, what with the ONE Strawweight and Featherweight World titles on the line; as well the last of the Flyweight World Grand Prix Quarter-finals and a pivotal welterweight matchup, scheduled to take place.
The event is due to be held on 12 April inside the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines in front of what is certain to be a sell-out crowd.
However, aside from the bouts mentioned above ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR will also feature the anticipated promotional debut of female atomweight Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen. It’s a name that appears set to become well known amongst ONE’s global fanbase.
The 29-year-old Vietnamese-American has the spent the last few years competing on the North American regional circuit.
Nguyen’s impressive performances inevitably brought her to the attention of the world’s largest martial arts organization. It did not take long before a contract was drafted and was winging its way from ONE’s head office in Singapore to Nguyen’s letterbox.
“I had my sights on ONE Championship for a long time; I just wanted to earn my keep,” Nguyen said.
“I know that ONE has the best athletes in the world in my weight class, so it just worked out perfectly for me. I think that right now is a good time for me to compete in ONE because I have gotten some experience under my belt.”
Nguyen has been handed a tough assignment for her first outing under the ONE banner. The debutante will meet undefeated Indonesian Dwi Ani Retno Wulan in a bout that promises wall-to-wall action.
Wulan is an Indonesian Muay Thai Champion whose aggressive take-no-prisoners style will suit Nguyen, who is famed for never backing down from a challenge.
“What I have learned from competing is that if you watch your opponent you can see some tendencies, but it all depends on who they are matched with.
“I have seen girls back up because they are competing against someone aggressive, I have seen girls push forward because they are competing against someone timid,” Nguyen said.
“For me, it has never really mattered what they did before. I am a very aggressive athlete I see she is scrappy. So, I predict the same as always I predict; me pushing forward and pushing the pace. We will see if she can keep up with the pace, that is going to be the question.”
To get her mind and body set for the rigors of her debut, Nguyen decided to base her training camp out of Phuket, Thailand at the world-renowned Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp. It is a decision she is glad she made.
“I love being out here away from the stresses of home and concentrating on just my training camp,” she said.
“At home, I have people who train, who are busy doing this and doing that. One foot in, one foot out, and here you meet people who are really committed. They sacrificed their jobs; they are away from their family; these are some of the most committed athletes I have ever meet.
“It’s very inspiring because this sport takes a lot more out of you than anybody knows. It’s hard to balancing your life and balancing your job, family, and friends,” she noted.
“It gets harder to find that motivation as you get older, as a woman you want to start a family you want to do this and do that, so it’s good to find places that help remind you why it is that you really want to compete.”
When athletes first make that walk to the ONE cage, some can find themselves overwhelmed by the scale of the event. However, Nguyen is the type of athlete who can put her nerves to the side and concentrate solely on the job at hand.
“I kind of block that out, at this point I am a very chilled fighter, you will find me on the week of the event laughing, joking just hanging out.
“You will find me very calm and collected, and I don’t focus on anything outside of the bout.
“Small stage, big stage I look at the contest the same.”
From what Nguyen has shown the world so far, it seems her arrival on the world’s biggest martial arts stage has come not a moment too soon.