‘I Only Have One Chance’ – With Back Against The Wall, Martin Nguyen Gears Up For Must-Win Battle

Martin Nguyen faces Ilya Freymanov at ONE on Prime Video 2

Former two-division king Martin Nguyen knows that it’s now or never if he ever wants to wear ONE Championship gold around his waist again.

On February 24 at ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II on Prime Video, the Vietnamese-Australian superstar will take on undefeated phenom Shamil Gasanov at a critical point in his MMA career.

Currently ranked #4 in the loaded featherweight division, Nguyen comes into this high-stakes contest with his back against the wall following a disappointing knockout loss to Ilya Freymanov at ONE on Prime Video 2 last September.

That defeat stalled “The Situ-Asian’s” climb back to a potential World Title shot, and he only blames himself for the result.

The 33-year-old told ONEFC.com:

“It was an ill preparation on my end. I love being fair and square. I got beat up pretty badly. And that was all my fault because of my lack of preparation. I didn’t spar. I trained two days a week, two times a day, kind of just went on my own pace.”

Nguyen typically prepares for his fights at Kill Cliff FC in Florida under the watchful eye of head coach Henri Hooft. But because he accepted the Freymanov bout on just four weeks’ notice, he instead chose to train at home.

Looking back, he believes that decision was his undoing. 

But after 17 thrilling fights inside the ONE Championship Circle, including nine World Title bouts, the brutally honest knockout artist knows exactly what went wrong.

Nguyen said:

“Where Kill Cliff is just, you go at the coach’s pace, you don’t go your own pace, everything’s offset there. And there are high-level fighters that keep up with me as well. So I kind of slacked off on the laziness side on my end, and I paid the ultimate price. So 2022, man, it sucks to end the year like that. But yeah, it’s a big eye-opener for me.”

Martin Nguyen: ‘It’s Just Up To Me To Perform’

For Martin Nguyen, every fight inside the world’s largest martial arts organization is important, but he’s now determined to regain the ONE Featherweight World Title and understands that his path must go through Shamil Gasanov.

The former featherweight and lightweight titleholder knows that if he suffers a second consecutive defeat, he might as well shut the door entirely on another shot at the gold.

He said:

“I feel that I only have one chance and one chance only. So every bout that I have and every bout that I get from here on has to be important. If I want that title shot bad enough, it’s just up to me to perform.”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Nguyen will face an incredibly stiff test on February 24.

Undefeated across 13 professional MMA contests and riding high after a sensational ONE Championship debut, Gasanov could very well be the future of the featherweight division.

“The Situ-Asian” admits as much, but he plans to lean on his veteran savvy and years of experience at the highest level to derail the Russian grappler’s hype train.

Nguyen said:

“I mean he hasn’t lost, so it’s kind of hard to pinpoint how we’re going to beat him. But I’m a veteran of this game, and I’ve been around the best, and I’ll find a way. I’ll definitely find a way, and I’ll definitely push some buttons on that night.”

Nguyen also acknowledges that his surging opponent is likely to hold a pure strength advantage. 

However, as a former World Title challenger in the lighter bantamweight division, he’s also confident in his own quickness advantage.

And ultimately, he believes that his movement – coupled with his explosive striking and elite fight IQ – will carry him to victory over Gasanov in this key bout.

“The Situ-Asian” added:

“I feel like I’ve got speed over him. I’m working a lot more on maintaining a higher weight. Now going in there, I won’t probably be as strong as him, but I’ll still hit as hard if not harder. So I’m fighting wise. I’ll just try to fight smarter. I don’t know. We just got to go in there and do our thing.”

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