ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen can’t speak highly enough of his new team at Hard Knocks 365 and the benefits he’s reaped inside the cage and on the mat since his arrival in Florida.
The 30-year-old believes his striking, in particular, has gone to a new level under former kickboxing world champion Henri Hooft, as his daily duels with his elite teammates have both boosted his abilities and helped him rediscover his passion for martial arts.
But it’s not simply the physical aspect where “The Situ-Asian” has seen improvements.
“It’s rebuilt my mental game,” says Nguyen. “It’s restructured my fight planning and my coaches input – everything has been enhanced in a way that I notice a huge difference.”
“Gaining a lot more confidence in what I have. All the skills that I had accumulated, resharpening them with world-class coaches and training with high-level athletes every single day, twice a day. It’s made me fall in love with the sport again,” he continued.
While Nguyen speaks highly of his original KMA team in Australia and their contribution to his success in martial arts – highlighted by becoming the first fighter to become a dual-division champion when he beat Eduard Folayang to clinch the ONE Lightweight World Championship – there was a tedium to his work there that was starting to weigh on him.
“Back in Australia, not saying anything bad, but it was getting a bit like ‘Groundhog Day’. I knew what I had to do and I trained with the same people, I could choose my people to train with. Whereas here in Florida, we’ve got people coming in and out of the gym, world-class champions from different organizations in and you’re constantly mixing it up with different types of athletes,” Nguyen explained.
Not that those day-in, day-out challenges don’t bring their own unique demands with them.
“Being under the coach’s eye for people who have bouts coming up, it makes you mentally on point every single session. It’s physically draining and mentally draining but it builds that strength inside to keep going every single day,” says Nguyen.
Nguyen will look to add to the one win he has with his new squad – over Narantungalag Jadambaa back in April – when he defends his title against dangerous Japanese up-and-comer Koyomi Matsushima at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August in Manila.
Confident he’s primed and readier than ever for battle, Nguyen’s focus for the bout is simple.
“I’ve just got to be me and do my thing. Implement my game and everything will fall into place,” he concluded.