Sydney, Australia’s Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen has been one of ONE Championship’s hottest featherweights as of late. The 27-year-old mixed martial arts prospect has figured in a handful of exciting battles inside the ONE Championship cage, and has even at one time competed for the ONE Featherweight World Championship opposite Russian kingpin Marat Gafurov.
Although Nguyen lost in his first title bid, the Aussie has learned from his errors and has since evolved as a fighter. His sole loss comes with a caveat, too — he had taken the fight on just three days’ notice.
On 14 January at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Nguyen (7-1) took on Japanese MMA veteran Kazunori Yokota (25-6-3) as part of the main card of ONE: QUEST FOR POWER, and prevailed, setting up a potential title rematch with Gafurov. Yokota also challenged for the featherweight title in his last bout, failing to take the title from the iron grasp of Gafurov.
Here are five reasons why Martin Nguyen could be the next ONE Championship superstar.
#1 His Huge Potential Fanbase
In combat and sports in general, a fighter who represents a country gets huge backing from the nation’s citizens. While Nguyen has lived in Australia for most of his life, both of his parents originated from Vietnam.
Nguyen shared that he has gone back to Vietnam, and that he does feel the need to get in touch with his roots. With ONE Championship’s wheels turning for an eventual entry into the Vietnamese market, Nguyen would be the perfect candidate to lead the charge.
At a young 27-years of age, Nguyen has the skills and the potential to be a bonafide superstar in both Australia and Vietnam, loved and revered by fans who are hungry for a local homegrown martial arts hero.
Just like ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang is adored in the Philippines and the way the “Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang is idolized in Myanmar, Nguyen will get his chance to immortalize himself in both Australia and Vietnam.
#2 His Great Striking And Submission Skills
In perhaps his most impressive victory to date, Nguyen derailed 18-year-old Christian Lee’s meteoric rise through the featherweight ranks, putting the young prospect to sleep with a modified guillotine choke with less than a minute to go in the first round.
Nguyen is nearly 10 years Lee’s senior. Although the talented Lee had pretty much blasted through competition early in his MMA career, he was expected to face his first real test in Nguyen. Nguyen on the other hand, had no plans in being a stepping stone, and had other things on his mind.
Nguyen peppered Lee with pinpoint combinations, beating Lee to the punch in almost every striking exchange. Nguyen dropped and rocked Lee on multiple occasions before going for his neck in a spectacular submission finish.
Lee was outclassed in every category. More than anything, Nguyen proved that Lee had a long way to go before he could reach the level he was on.
With Nguyen’s well-rounded skills, he has proven that he has what it takes to be successful at the highest level, and what is even more pertinent is the fact that he just continues to improve and get better after every fight.
#3 He is Charismatic And Confident
One unspoken quality of a combat sports athlete desired by most promotions is a fighter’s ability to self-promote. You can certainly count Nguyen among that lot.
The featherweight standout knows exactly how to conduct himself in front of the camera, and play to the attention of the media with his colorful quotes and ability to tell it like it is.
Nguyen is not shy to speak his mind, and is not afraid to share his opinion. This is a great thing in the world of combat sports, because personality breathes life into a fighter’s character.
Nguyen just oozes with confidence and carries himself much like a champion does, with extreme belief in his abilities. This type of approach to competition is exactly what is needed to make fights both interesting and entertaining.
#4 His Fight-finishing Ability
One of the biggest signs that Nguyen is ONE Championship’s next superstar is that he is a surefire finisher. All seven of Nguyen’s victories have come by exciting stoppage, including three submissions and four knockouts.
He just has that inherent ability to finish opponents off in various ways. Nguyen has been a professional fighter for nearly five years, and none of his fights have ended in a decision.
In fact, the furthest he has ever gone in a fight was in his professional debut, where he dragged his opponent into deep water before submitting him in the third round.
That’s quite the impressive feat, and at 27, Nguyen has so much more excitement to offer. Despite the high-risk nature of his fighting style, Nguyen is also extremely durable, having suffered no major injuries in his ONE Championship stint thus far.
He is strong, intelligent, and built to last — three qualities that form a great combination for any fighter looking to wow audiences with thrilling performances. In a Martin Nguyen fight, fans definitely know they will be getting an edge-of-your-seat experience.
#5 He Owns Tremendous Experience At A Young Age
The last reason that pretty much rounds out the total package that is Martin Nguyen is the good, solid fight experience he has amassed early in his career.
Just seven fights into his life as a pro MMA fighter and Nguyen has already faced the likes of Filipino top featherweight talent Edward Kelly, Chinese featherweight rising star Li Kai Wen, and Singapore MMA standout Christian Lee.
Aside from his title challenge experience against Marat Gafurov, Nguyen has progressed very well in his career with increasing levels of opposition in each bout.
He currently sits among the top five at featherweight in ONE Championship on most rankings, and for good reason. Nguyen’s combination of raw talent and undeniable skill coupled with his solid fight experience makes him a formidable combatant, and a legitimate threat to the featherweight throne.
It appears to be only a matter of time before we see Nguyen once again on the opposite side of the cage against the reigning champion, whoever that may be in the very near future.