Six months ago, ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Nguyen found himself on top of the world after knocking out ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang for the hometown hero's belt. At ONE: Legends of the World in Manila, "The Situ-Asian" became the first-ever two-division titleholder in ONE Championship history.
He may have falllen short against ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes for that third belt earlier this year, but that doesn't take away from Nguyen's already legendary body of work. This Friday, May 18, the Vietnamese-Australian hopes to get back on track and build on his legacy, as he is set to defend his featherweight title against the revenge-seeking Christian Lee—whose first career defeat came at the hands of the former—at ONE: Unstoppable Dreams in the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
FHM recently attended the press conference of the landmark event held in the Lion City, and we had a quick chat with Nguyen about the lessons from his humbling last match, his friend Folayang, and what the phrase "unstoppable dreams" actually means for him.
What are the pros and cons of being the first ONE Championship fighter to carry multiple belts?
Look, I don't see any advantages or disadvantages, I'm still the same person before I even got the belts. I've just got a target on my back, everyone's calling me out. I think everyone needs to take a step back and realize the journey that I've been on to get these titles, and use that as motivation for themselves to go on the same road I did and get your shot, instead of just calling out and expecting a shot.
What are your biggest takeaways from that narrow split-decision loss to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu icon like Fernandes?
For someone of my caliber to be able to compete against a five-time BJJ world champion, and for him to not be able to implement his ground game on me, like he did to his previous eight opponents, I got a bit of confidence from that. I need to be a lot more positive and respectful to my own skill set. I held back a bit in that fight. I respected him way too much. I wasn't as aggressive as I wanted to be. This is what we learned, and it's a learning curve. And I'll come back stronger, no matter what.
Which of those key points are you planning to utilize in this bout against Lee and incorporate to your overall fighting style?
I'll definitely be moving forward. The aggression is there, I respect Christian (Lee) just as much as he respects me, so we'll see come Friday night. I don't really know, it's all in God's hands—he can finish me in one punch, I can finish him with one punch, we'll play our games, and we'll go from there.
Do you see a time when your brother Eduard Folayang will be ready to challenge you for the lightweight crown?
I think Eduard is ready whenever he's ready. Only he would know if he's ready or not. But he's a strong person with the best heart, I'm sure he'll come back much stronger. He's got the best supporting team behind him that would do anything for him to get back into the position that he was, and that's being a leader.
Does the expression 'unstoppable dreams' have any significance to your ONE Championship journey and making history?
"Unstoppable dreams" for me means being able to defend my titles one after the other. I'll be the first two-division champion to actually consistently defend their title, and my unstoppable dream is to get that third world title.
ONE: Unstoppable Dreams will be available for free streaming through the ONE Super App