ONE Championship featherweight titleholder Martin Nguyen says he’ll be better than ever when he steps into the cage with streaking challenger Thanh Le on October 30.
The bout will be Nguyen’s first since August, 2019, and the champion is unsurprisingly very excited to get back into the cage—particularly when so many athletes are unable to compete during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s definitely a blessing, man,” Nguyen told BJPENN.com ahead of his departure for Singapore, where the fight with Le will go down. “Everything is feeling good. I can definitely say this is the best camp I’ve had.”
While Nguyen is feeling good, he is not underestimating the challenge ahead of him.
Le has yet to lose in ONE Championship, having stopped Yusup Saadulaev, Kotetsu Boku and Ryogo Takahashi—all solid foes—in his first three bouts with the promotion. Nguyen is impressed with what he’s seen from his challenger, and is expecting a tough fight.
“He’s a great opponent,” Nguyen said of Le. “He’s a great athlete. He moves well. He’s got lots of power. He’s done everything right to deserve this title shot against me.
“I’ve got to watch out for everything. At the end of the day, it’s mixed martial arts. I can’t just be focused on one thing and be caught off guard by something else. I’ve got to be ready for all the skills he possesses.
“He’s the highest caliber type of fighter, it’s up to me as an athlete to adjust.”
Nguyen, an Australian of Vietnamese heritage, has been preparing for this challenge at Sanford MMA in South Florida. While international travel is quite difficult during the ongoing pandemic, he was able to travel to the United States thanks to an exemption from the Australian government. He’s grateful for that exemption, as it’s allowed him to prepare for Le alongside some of the best fighters in the world, such as former Bellator champion and new UFC star Michael Chandler.
“It’s been a blessing,” Nguyen said of his time at Sanford MMA. “Michael Chandler has been one of my main training partners since coming over here. He’s obviously getting ready for his fight, as a fill-in [for the UFC 254 main event], and getting ready for everything in general. He’s gone with wrestlers, he’s gone with strikers, he’s gone will all kinds of athletes.
“For me, to be able to move around with him has been a blessing. I was kind of star struck at first, but Mike’s a good guy.”
With a solid camp in reaching its conclusion, Nguyen promises that he’ll be better than ever before when he steps onto the canvas on October 30—which is surely a sobering thought for Le.
“You’re going to see the best version of me in there,” the featherweight champion said. “I say this every single time, but every single time I get better and better.
“It’s going to be fireworks. I can guarantee that. I’m going to pour the pressure on, and we’ll see who breaks.”