ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen is eager to make his return to the global stage and defend his title against all-comers – especially the top-ranked contenders in his division.
The Vietnamese-Australian luminary has kept a close eye on the movement in ONE Championship’s Athlete Rankings, and he has used his time away from the action to become even more familiar with the five names directly behind him.
Here, the 31-year-old Sydney native takes a brief respite from his afternoon training session to reveal his true thoughts on the highest-ranked contenders in his featherweight class.
#1-Ranked Contender Christian Lee
Martin Nguyen: Christian Lee has done good things. He is blessed to have started at a young age and gotten to where he is now at still a young age. So, #1 contender? Yeah, I justify that.
He has taken out the majority of the featherweight division. I mean, there are new guys in [the division] now who are high contenders that he hasn’t faced, but for his credentials and what he has done in both divisions, yeah, it is justified.
He is the #1 contender, and we will be facing each other in the future.
#2-Ranked Contender Koyomi Matsushima
MN: Koyomi is a good guy. He is very respectful, has high credentials, and he was a tough fight when I fought him. He has beaten Marat Gafurov and he was scheduled to fight Christian on more than one occasion, but [his spot is] justified.
The guy just beat a very tough fighter as well (Kim Jae Woong). Koyomi dominated the guy, and the guy was tough. But it is justified. It is what it is. He is a super-talented athlete.
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#3-Ranked Contender Thanh Le
MN: Thanh Le came from a North American promotion and he was killing it on the scene. He got his shot, came into ONE Championship, did his thing, won three in a row, and it justifies that he fights a top contender.
At the moment, in terms of a high contender, I would have thought that he would have faced someone like Christian or Matsushima first, but I’m happy to take that fight. I’m ready to fight anyone in the division, and I’ll always be ready to fight anyone in this division, whether they deserve it or not.
ONE Championship deemed this guy was ready, and here we are.
#4-Ranked Contender Tetsuya Yamada
MN: I haven’t heard of Yamada in a while. The last time he fought was against Marat Gafurov. I would have thought Marat would have been [ranked] instead of Yamada, but it is what it is.
The guy is there, he is a name, and he is someone who is in the division, so I have to be ready for him, too.
#5-Ranked Contender Garry Tonon
MN: Garry is on a five-fight winning streak – who can’t deny his position? He deserves to be there, I’d say, with his jiu-jitsu credentials and the rest of his martial arts background.
And the way he has won every single fight was a finish. If it was by decision, or if the fights could have gone either way, you’d question his position in the rankings. But he has finished every single guy who was on somewhat of a winning streak or had been dangerous one time in their career, and he’s just finished them.
So yeah, he deserves to be in that position, and a match-up with me and Tonon will definitely happen. It’s just inevitable.
Read more: Martin Nguyen’s 2019: A Year Of Redemption