This year was one of highs and lows for Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen (11-3).
Though the Vietnamese-Australian fell short in his audacious bid to become the first-ever three division mixed martial arts titleholder, his grip on the ONE Featherweight World Title remained as tight as ever.
The 29-year-old was in imperious form when he shut down the challenge of Christan “The Warrior” Lee (10-3) over five rounds at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
Nguyen’s year, and reign as ONE Lightweight World Champion, was unfortunately cut short because of injury, but that has only added to his desire to return to the limelight and perform in front of his fans.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, December 10, 2018
As he returns to full fitness, he is more motivated than ever to make a grand comeback in early 2019, and recapture the form that saw him score six straight finishes to become the organization’s first two-division World Champion.
However, he will have his hands full against the martial artists in one of the organization’s most stacked divisions.
The 29-year-old has been vocal about his desire to take on Mongolian powerhouse Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa (14-5), who made a stellar return to competition with two back-to-back wins in June and July.
Despite a long layoff, the former ONE Featherweight World Champion came back with full force to score a TKO victory over Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly (11-5).
The popular 42-year-old returned only 20 days later to go toe-to-toe with Kazuki Tokudome (18-10-1) and earn a thrilling unanimous decision.
Another top-level contender that is eagerly waiting for Nguyen’s comeback is Japan’s Koyomi Matsushima (10-3). The 26-year-old talent caught everyone’s attention when he floored Marat “Cobra” Gafurov (16-2) in his September promotional debut.
A win against the former World Champion – who was also in the running for a rubber match with Nguyen – added his name to top contenders’ mix. He was only the second man to finish Gafurov after Nguyen took out the Dagestani talent in 2017.
That match is likely to be high on many fans’ wish-lists, but there is no lack of exciting contenders who are working their way toward a shot at the gold.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, December 3, 2018
Though Nguyen has wins over both Lee and China’s “The Underdog” Li Kai Wen (9-4), 2018 saw these young contenders notch impressive wins at the top of the division.
As Li finished all three of his opponents in 2018, he set the record for the fastest finish in featherweight history and put on one of the bouts of the year. “The Warrior” returned to form with a resounding TKO of Kazuki Tokudome last month in Singapore.
If these young athletes can keep their momentum going, it will be hard to deny them a rematch for the belt.
The same can be said about Malaysian star Keanu Subba (7-3), who took home two submission victories, including a choke of previously-undefeated Phoe “Bushido” Thaw (6-1).