As the owner of ONE Championship’s lightweight and featherweight titles, Martin Nguyen is already a two-division champion. For the man they call “The Situ-Asian,” however, two titles is simply not enough.
This weekend, when ONE returns to the sun-soaked Thai capital of Bangkok with ONE: IRON WILL, Nguyen will vie for a third title, as he drops down to bantamweight to challenge divisional king Bibiano Fernandes.
While the thought of Martin Nguyen owning a whopping three ONE titles consecutively is certainly exciting in theory, it also creates a bit of a conundrum: how, pray tell, does one man actively defend three belts with any kind of frequency?
Well, Nguyen isn’t too worried about that. He has always been an active fighter, and he plans to stay that way, and assures he’ll defend the two titles he’s already won – and the third he could win this weekend – as often as he can manage.
“I haven’t thought that far ahead,” Nguyen said on the latest stacked episode BJ Penn Radio. “I just plan my year as I go, man, I plan on winning this fight, I’m keen on defending it straight away and defending both my other titles as well. But yeah, in terms of what else can I do from here, you can only expect me to defend my titles, and be a better fighter every time.”
“I plan on winning this fight, as every fighter would,” he added. “I plan on defending it straight away, now that my weight is around [the bantamweight limit], the same weight, and I’ll start moving up as the year ends. By the end of the year, I want to be the best I can be, near the 155 mark [to] defend the [other] titles.”
Then again, Nguyen has a very interesting outlook on his ever-growing belt collection. For him, the belts are merely trinkets collected on his ongoing martial arts journey, a journey he hopes will inspire anyone who’s paying attention.
“I want the MMA community, and the fans to remember me,” he said. “It’s all about the legacy, it’s all about the martial arts journey at the end of the day. The belts, man, they’re just an accessory, they’re on every MMA fighter’s mind. Everyone wants to be a world champion. Everyone wants to be the best fighter in the world. For me, it’s all about inspiring, the belts do come with the fame, but you know what, I’ve already accomplished more than what I could ever possibly imagine. I just thought at least get one belt and I would be happy, I got two, the belts now, it’s all about fighting the best in the world, for me, and leaving a legacy behind. So everyone can remember.”
To those who would accuse him of potentially tying up three divisions on his incredible martial arts journey, Martin Nguyen has this to say:
“In terms of tying up the divisions, it’s not really tying up the divisions,” he said. “If anything I should be motivating other fighters to be stepping up their fight game, finishing their fights, drastically and dramatically, just to get that title shot.”
“I feel that title shots are given way too easy theses days, and guys that are coming in to a promotion with on a one [or] two-fight winning streak are calling for a title shot. Me having these belts should actually motivate other fighters to step up their game to take out every other fighter in their division to earn their positions. This is where I got my positions. I fought my way all the way up and won these titles, I planted seeds. Where ONE Championship [wants] to take it from here, I mean, it’s totally up to them. For me personally, I have set goals, and I plan on achieving them, [no matter the] division, I tend to fight three to four times a year. I tend to stay busy as I can while I’m in this fight game, so, we’ll see what happens.”
Do you think Martin Nguyen can capture a third belt at ONE: IRON WILL this weekend?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/22/2018.