Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen (9-1) constantly strives the become the best martial artist he could possibly be.
This past August, the 28-year-old Vietnamese-Australian capitalized on a second golden opportunity at the ONE Featherweight World Championship, and knocked out previously-unbeaten titleholder Marat “Cobra” Gafurov in a rematch to claim the coveted belt.
Now, three months after his title win, he is attempting to become the first two-division world champion in ONE Championship’s history.
On Friday, 10 November, Nguyen will move up a weight class and challenge ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang (18-5) for his title at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, which broadcasts live from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
According to his head coach Fari Salievski, the master instructor of KMA Top Team in Liverpool, New South Wales, Nguyen is highly motivated to challenge a heavier world champion, and combat the threats he poses.
“Martin is quiet by nature. This quiet hides the competitive beast that thrives on a challenge, and as you have seen with his bouts, he steps up a gear when it is called upon, and I have no doubt he will do the same again,” said Salievski. “This is an amazing quality. It is not who knows more, but who reacts the fastest, and the ability to adjust and adapt is not something that can be learned.
“As such, being with Martin is never work. Set tasks are a breeze, and he sets the pace with the team. My role these days is more ensuring the mental game is uninterrupted by life, before and during the bout. We both understand this is a journey that will not last forever, and as such we aim to enjoy the ride and take every opportunity it brings.”
For the most part, with the exception of a few minor adjustments, Nguyen has stuck to the same routine that got him on his five-bout win streak, and led him to capturing the ONE Featherweight World Championship.
“Everyone keeps asking me why am I keeping it the same, but why change something that has not failed you? Why change something when it is not broken? You keep going until it goes wrong, and then you focus on what you need to be doing,” he says.
“Basically, it has been the same training camp since the Li Kai Wen match — the same strategy and the same everything throughout the whole time. It got me on the streak, it got me the belt, and it could win me a second. So we will see how everything goes, and how it all plays out.”
Since Nguyen was already in tiptop shape due to his recent August battle with Gafurov, that allowed him to easily slide into a hard six-week training camp, which began in late September.
“The Situ-Asian” started his days at 6:30am, where he dedicated an hour and a half to strength and conditioning. In the evenings, he went to his faithful gym KMA Top Team, where spends up to two hours on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu, striking, and overall strategy.
This is where his training camp differed a bit. Although the basic routine was the same, he specifically concentrates on different aspects of his opponent’s skill set.
“In terms of Marat, I did focus on my BJJ, but that only came when I was doing BJJ. I was purely focusing on the rear-naked choke and him taking me down,” Nguyen explains.
“Every day, the normal set-up of training from Marat to Eduard is the same. But with Eduard, I am focusing on my whole overall game, whereas with Marat, I knew he was more of a one-dimensional opponent, so I focused more on the ground game when it came to the ground training.”
On Saturday afternoons at around 4pm, he out in hard sparring sessions. Following a 15-minute warm-up, he engaged in ten five-minute rounds with athletes from both KMA Top Team and other gyms in the region.
While most martial artists take a break on Sundays, Nguyen remained active. He regularly engaged in outdoor training, which he refers to as “scene days,” where he ran up steep mountains and powered through sand dunes.
The featherweight world champ estimates they are 30 meters steep and 50 meters long, and admits this particular workout was “not fun.”
“After running one, you are like, ‘What am I doing here? Why am I doing this?’ But after you get to 30, you are like, ‘I have to bring the belt home after this.’ Every week, you put yourself through the same struggle and the same mindset, and it is like a motivation sparks inside of you.”
Unlike previous camps though, Nguyen did not have to cut any weight. If anything, the Vietnamese-Australian had to gain a couple of kilograms, so that meant adding an extra meal and snack into his diet. Plus, he could afford to be a little bit looser on his food selection, as he consumed more calories in an effort to bulk up.
“I can eat whatever I want,” he explains. “Before, when I was competing at featherweight, I would have to watch everything I ate, even to the lolly. But now, I am shoving down whatever is in front of me. Obviously, I am controlling myself when it comes to portions, but I can eat whatever I want.”
Nguyen certainly has a hunger for more, and on Friday, 10 November, that could result in a second world championship belt.
Manila | 10 November | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends17