Martyn Nguyen will be making an emotional journey when he travels to Indonesia to face Bashir Ahmad at ONE: ‘Odyssey of Champions’ this month.
The Australian featherweight, who holds a perfect professional record of 4-0, will be returning to a country where his Vietnamese parents once spent several weeks as a refugees.
“My parents were part of the first or second fleet of Vietnamese attempting to escape the Vietnam war. After travelling by boat from Vietnam to Malaysia they then ended up in Indonesia where they were kept and looked after in a refugee camp. They were part of the first fleet they flew to Australia via plane.”
Nguyen has spent his entire life living in Australia and was a promising rugby league player during his school days. He was forced to give up the game after suffering a series of injuries and says this is when he became interested in martial arts.
COMPETITION WILL ALWAYS BE INTENSE. WE ARE ALL CHASING ONE THING – THAT GOLD BELT.
“I started training in combat BJJ and MMA in 2009 just for the sake of getting fit as I had been sidelined for almost a year from some reoccurring injuries in representative rugby league.”
Coming into martial arts at the age of 21 made Nguyen a relatively late starter but he rapidly began to make up for lost time competing in both BJJ tournaments and amateur MMA.
“After a year of training under my coach I decided to compete in the local amateur open mat 77kg MMA tournament in which, after four fights, I placed first. A year later I decided to compete in the same tournament at 75kg and, after three fights, I placed first again and told myself that the next step would be to face my fear of stepping in that cage.”
Nguyen would go on to take the featherweight division by storm, capturing the Brace 145 lbs title in only his third pro fight. Along with the belt he earned himself a ONE Championship contract, making his promotional debut in Singapore last November.
The Australian ended up in an entertaining, back and forth war with previously undefeated featherweight Rocky Batol Batol. After just over two minutes of intense action Nguyen prevailed over the Filipino courtesy of a rear naked choke and it is a memory he will cherish.
“My debut fight for one championship was fun and scary at the same time. I had a mix of emotions and doubt but having my wife and coach with me truly kept me sane. All in all I really enjoyed how professional and world class ONE FC was towards me and my team.”
At the age of 26 Nguyen is already a father to three children and a family man. His perfect professional record of 4-0 is even more impressive when you take into consideration that he has to fit his training around numerous other commitments.
“Like most fighters, I would love to live the dream of being a full time fighter but before I started fighting professionally I got married and my wife and I had just purchased our first home. Now I have three beautiful kids and work full time during the day and train for two hours every night.”
At ONE: ‘Odyssey of Champions’ he is going up against Bashir Ahmad. The Pakistani has proven to be a tough and tenacious competitor in his three fights for the promotion to date but Nguyen believes he will emerge victorious.
“I haven’t seen much of Bashir but I have all respect for him as a fighter. I saw his last couple of fight for one and his style of fighting is pretty wild. Just as the case has been with all my previous opponents, I will get my hand raised regardless.”
After travelling all the way from Sydney to Singapore to make his ONE debut Nguyen is looking forwards to fighting in Jakarta for the first time.
“I am very excited to be fighting for ONE championship again and to top it off in another beautiful country in Indonesia. Indonesia is like a second home to us Aussies, so I feel like I’m fighting very close to home soil.”
Seeing their son fight in Indonesia might be a sentimental moment for Nguyen’s parents but he says he hasn’t got round to telling them about it just yet.
“My Mother never approves of me fighting as she is scared of me getting any serious injuries, typical motherly reaction.
“I never got around to telling her where I’m fighting next as I’m scared of getting that lecture.”
ONE: ‘Odyssey of Champions’ features several of the top fighters in the featherweight division. Naruntungalag Jadambaa is defending his 145 lbs belt against Marat Gafurov in the main event while top contenders Herbert Burns and Timofei Nastyushkin will also be facing off in a potential title eliminator.
It’s arguably ONE Championship’s most competitive division and Nguyen is just happy to be in the mix with some of the best featherweights in the world.
“The featherweight division is stacked. Competition in ONE championship will always be intense as we have the some of the world’s best fighters and we are all chasing one thing – that gold belt.”