As a two-division ONE World Champion, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen knows his schedule is going to be busy.
Unlike most athletes on the roster, his schedule can be booked more than six months in advance, as top contender bouts are mapped out for both World Titles in his possession.
The winner of that bout would then move on to challenge for the ONE Lightweight World Title at Japan’s blockbuster show in March. As the current holder of the lightweight belt, it was news Nguyen welcomed.
“There were other options out there,” says the two-division World Champion. “There were other up-and-coming fighters like Timofey (Nastyukhin), Amir (Khan), and Honorio (Banario), but you know what? Ev and Shinya deserve it.
“Shinya, I thought he deserved it 100 percent. He finished two high-level guys in the first round, including Shannon Wiratchai.”
As for whom he expects to prevail, Nguyen will not be drawn on an iron-clad pick.
However, having seen their successes this year – Aoki’s first-round stoppages of Rasul Yakhyaev and Wiratchai, as well as Ting’s decision victories against Ariel Sexton and Koji Ando – he does expect a gripping encounter.
“I think it is going to be a very good fight. You can never count Shinya out. He lost his title, but he has been on a tear since,” he says. “He has finished guys decisively – first-round finishes compared to Ev, who has ridden out decisions.
“Ev has come back, he’s on a three-bout winning streak, and has taken out some high-level contenders that really deserved it as well. He really deserves a title shot, but man, you can’t say no to Shinya (getting a World Title shot), you know?
“The guy can have four losses in a row, and then come back and finish a fight in the first round, and you still can’t deny him. He is a dark horse – that’s how I see Shinya.
“I have massive respect for both of the fighters. I can’t wait to see how this one plays out.”