Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen was still buzzing from her triumphant return to Vietnam at ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH when she received an exciting call from ONE Championship.
The 29-year-old Vietnamese-American was offered an opportunity to face reigning ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex, as she pursues a third World Title in mixed martial arts.
While she knew it might be difficult to switch straight back from Muay Thai to mixed martial arts, Nguyen did not hesitate to accept the challenge, and now she will meet Stamp at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE next Friday, 8 November at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
“I don’t think people realize and appreciate the kind of work it takes to go back and forth between sports, but it’s a challenge that I definitely welcome and I’m happy to have,” Nguyen explains.
“I was focused on mixed martial arts for a while, and then I went to Muay Thai, which meant I had to change my wrestling to clinching. I showed that in my last fight.
“Now I’m fighting a monster of a stand-up girl, and although I’m confident in my striking, I’m going to switch my game plan back around to mixed martial arts. When I win this fight, I will have proven so much to myself because it is a lot to ask of an athlete to go back and forth and fight different sports.”
Stamp has been through a similar experience this year, too. She won ONE Super Series World Title gold in kickboxing and Muay Thai before she made a move to have her second mixed martial arts bout.
The 21-year-old phenom was expected to show off her world-class striking, but she proved how quickly she has adapted to the ground game when she dispatched Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka with a third-round rear-naked choke in August.
“Killer Bee” was impressed, but as a veteran of nine professional bouts in this sport, she is certain she will not suffer the same fate.
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“She looked like a good athlete, she looked like she had been doing [grappling], and she looked like she was a natural, but you really have to take into account who she was fighting,” she says.
“Her opponent in the last fight had zero ground game… She’s a great boxer, but it was a great match-up for Stamp to show her ground [skills] in the last fight. She’s not going to get that chance with me.
“You really have to understand complete mixed martial arts. Obviously, you have to respect Stamp’s stand-up, but I just think that I have more answers than her.
“I think the fight is going to end up on the ground and I’m going to win. That’s where it becomes a mismatch. I’m not going to say if it’s ground and pound or a submission. It’s hard to tell. My submission might give me ground and pound, or my ground and pound might give me a submission.”
Though she is confident she has a clear advantage on the ground, the Heritage Muay Thai representative is also sure she can hold her own with her opponent on the feet.
Many fans may think that would play into Stamp’s hands, but she suggests the way that she has adapted her skills in “the art of eight limbs” for the Circle could surprise the Thai hero.
“I’m confident that I’m a mixed martial arts striker,” she explains.
“My movement is going to be different for her. It’s going to be a different look than she’s ever seen. So I think my stand-up is going to give her issues based on my movement and my footwork.”
If all goes well against Stamp at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE, Nguyen will be set up for some huge bouts to begin next year.
A win against a double World Champion will be a big feather in her cap that will open a lot of doors for her, and she already has some ideas about how she will continue to climb up the women’s atomweight division in 2020.
“It’s going to be a big name to beat, and after beating Stamp, I don’t see how I cannot get who I want,” she says.
“I’ve always wanted to fight Mei Yamaguchi.”