ONE featherweight champion Martin Nguyen issues challenge to Eddie Alvarez

Martin Nguyen

Former two-weight ONE world champion Martin Nguyen has thrown down the challenge to Eddie Alvarez, declaring he will put his ONE Featherweight World Title on the line.

As Alvarez made the game-changing move to ONE Championship — having been offered a lucrative deal by ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong — Australian Nguyen was quick to raise his hand.

“I hope Eddie Alvarez will come down to my weight division and we’ll go from there,” Martin Nguyen said.

“He fights at lightweight, but he cuts to get down to lightweight. However much he cuts, it’s not that much and he can diet to get down to 70 kilograms, then I’m happy to throw down with him.

“Let’s go.”

Alvarez, a multiple-time lightweight world champion, announced via a video on social media that he has officially joined ONE Championship. And there will be no shortage of competitors wanting to step into the cage with the former champion.

But Nguyen, the reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion who recently relinquished the lightweight crown, might have to wait for his chance to face Alvarez.

Nguyen declared he won’t return to action this year as he recovers from a knee injury. The 29-year-old conceded he “dodged a massive bullet” by escaping surgery, but remains on the road to recovery after a training mishap.

Martin Nguyen

“I was helping one of the young guys prepare for his fight. I showed him a takedown off the cage and I allowed him to do it to me so he knows what it feels like,” Nguyen said.

“One thing led to another and I landed on my knee and tweaked my knee. There was no pop or anything. It was like rolling my ankle, the feeling of having a sprain.

“So now it’s just that annoying pain that’s always there and we’ve got to work around it.”

Martin Nguyen, born in Vietnam but based in Sydney, suffered a grade two tear of his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and strained his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Had he torn his ACL, Nguyen would be out of action for up to 12 months. Instead, the “Situ-Asian” is progressing strongly in his rehabilitation.

“We’ve just finished my fourth week of rehab and we’re onto our fifth week now,” Nguyen said.

“That’s been very intense. I’ve been to the physio every day and now it’s every second day because they’re happy with the progress of my recovery.

“I start kicking today. I’d been kicking the air but now they want me to kick something light to get used to the movement and get it out of my mind psychologically.

“I won’t get back this year. I’d love to fight, but I’m just listening to my body and I’m going to have the rest of the year off.

“I was planning to go at least two more times this year, but injuries happen and you’ve just got to listen to the body.

“I’ll come back strong next year and I’m definitely looking to hit that four-fight-a year mark.”

Nguyen has vacated the lightweight title, allowing Amir Khan and Eduard Folayang to challenge for the strap in Manila on November 23.

“It’s not my natural division, so whether I retain that belt or lose that belt, it doesn’t matter to me,” Nguyen said.

“I had the excitement of winning the title and there were some good times throughout the period that I held it in terms of chasing my dreams, but it had almost been a year since I defended it and it was almost wrong from a business point of view to hold it for a year without a defense.

“I don’t really care about that belt no more. The one I care about is where I made it in this fight game and that’s the featherweight division.

“That belt I’ll defend until the day I quit.”

If the Alvarez bout doesn’t eventuate, Nguyen has other challengers in mind, including top contenders Narantungalag Jadambaa (Mongolia) and Koyomi Matsushima (Japan).

“I’ll fight anyone,” Nguyen said.

“There’s a few guys on my radar now, but we’ll see what happens. We’ll let ONE Championship decide who is the next most deserving fighter and we’ll go from there.”

Does a ONE Featherweight title fight between the champ Martin Nguyen and the newcomer Eddie Alvarez interest you?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/25/2018.