BY DAN PAULO ERRAZO
ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen will grace the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila once more on August 2 to defend his title against Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsuhima at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.
Nguyen became the first ONE Championship athlete to hold two division titles at the same time when he knocked out Marat Gafurov and Eduard Folayang in the same year to capture both the featherweight and lightweight titles respectively. However, he had to vacate the ONE Lightweight World Title in September 2018 due to a knee injury. The setback allowed him a break from competition to rethink his plans moving forward.
“First and foremost, congratulations to Matsushima for earning his shot. I think he is a great fighter who has proved himself with the best,” Nguyen said.
“Having some time off [with the injury] made me reflect, and it made me hungrier. It also motivated me to push myself beyond setbacks and come back with a victory [over Jadambaa]. I have been given the right amount of time to prepare for Matsushima, and I have all faith in my coaches and training partners to get me over the line.”
In his last post-match presser, Nguyen firmly said that he no longer feels the urge to win multiple titles and will only be focused on his current division. “The Situ-Asian” kept a close eye on all the athletes who could potentially challenge for his title, including Matsushima.
“His performance against Gafurov was expected as Gafurov was clearly getting frustrated and rushing in carelessly as he did with me,” Nguyen said.
“The performance against Kwon Won Il was a surprise to me as I thought Kwon had a better defense to counter Matsushima’s wrestling, but Koyomi dominated and earned himself a shot with me.”
The Shooto Welterweight Tournament Champion, who is still new with ONE Championship, knocked out Gafurov in the first round at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES before dominating Kwon Won Il at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST. Martin admits he and Matsushima have similar combinations of striking and wrestling but believes his skill level is higher.
“He has really good wrestling. His striking is decent as well, but it is very reckless,” said Nguyen.
“Both our styles are very similar. We have great movement and power to counter, so come fight night, the fans should be expecting a great tactical battle full of fireworks and action. Every fighter has their strengths and weaknesses, but that is up to me on fight night to find out, capitalize on my game plan, and take Matsushima out – keep it simple!”
Now that he is fully healthy, Nguyen is open to competing in another bout before the year ends.
“Knowing that I am now injury-free, I want to try and push out at least one more fight after this one to end the year on a high,” Nguyen concluded.