Jakarta. Professional mixed martial arts fighter Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen has completed his climb to the top of ONE Championship’s competitive 70.3-kilogram weight class by clinching a prestigious gold medal against a fierce Russian rival.
The 28-year-old Vietnamese-Australian standout knocked out the previously unbeaten Marat "Cobra" Gafurov and laid claim to the featherweight crown in a main event this August.
Nguyen is now moving up a weight class and looking to acquire a second world title.
The newly-minted featherweight kingpin is set to challenge Filipino martial arts superstar Eduard "Landslide" Folayang for the ONE Lightweight World Championship in the match dubbed as the "ONE: Legends of the World," which will take place at the 20,000-seat SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Nguyen savors the opportunity to become the first two-division world champion in ONE Championship history.
"I like Eduard [Folayang]. I said to myself I did not want to compete against someone I like and take away their glory, but opportunities like this do not come around too often. And, if I refused to do this, someone else was going to compete against him and take his glory. So it is strictly business," he said.
According to Nguyen, he considers his highly-anticipated championship clash with Folayang as a dream come true. "I was so eager to return to the cage once more before the conclusion of 2017. My wish came true in the form of this dream match against Eduard Folayang," he added.
After signing the bout agreement for the cross-divisional showdown with Folayang, Nguyen immediately headed back into training camp and will train as usual with the KMA Top Team in Sydney, Australia, to figure out the puzzle that is the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Nguyen plans to use his lighter weight to his advantage, believing his speed and dynamism will be keys to his victory in the five-round championship contest.
"My strength in this match is my pace and my cardio. Eduard has legitimate cardio, obviously, training in Baguio City, but going at the pace I go at, I think he is going to fatigue, and my grappling will get the best of him. He is a strong guy, but I will use his weight against him in this match," he said.
Nguyen knows that he has quite the challenge ahead of him, especially since he is heading into Folayang’s home turf of Manila.
With only four months of training, Nguyen has gone from title contender to potential two-division world champion, which is a definitive testament to his hard work and dedication, and it is something he hopes will be able to positively impact others.
"I want to inspire people. I want them to see the hard work I go through, and if I do end up winning this belt, it all starts from hard work and dedication. If you really want something in life, you have to work hard for it. You have to put your head down, set your goals and meet them, and that is what I want to push to the new generation," he said.
While ONE Championship has been planning a foray into Vietnam, Nguyen could be at the forefront in bringing martial arts to the Southeast Asian country."I would love for ONE Championship to go to Vietnam, not only to motivate other Vietnamese athletes, but just the whole community. For someone coming from a large organization like ONE Championship, I somehow feel I can already serve as motivation to the Vietnamese people over there," Nguyen said.