Martin Nguyen, a former two-division MMA champion, achieved a significant victory last Friday, February 24, on his road back to a ONE World Title.
At ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II, Nguyen was originally scheduled to fight unbeaten phenom Shamil Gasanov, but two last-minute alterations forced him to fight burgeoning Brazilian Leonardo Casotti with only 48 hours' notice.
At Bangkok's famed Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, "The Situ-Asian" was prepared for battle no matter the foe.
The third-ranked featherweight challenger hammered his opponent over the course of three suspenseful rounds, pounding his leg with vicious low kicks before knocking him out in the final round to secure a convincing unanimous decision victory.
Nguyen claimed that although he would have liked an early pause, he had little opportunity to prepare a strategy for Casotti and was forced to weigh any advantages on the spot:
“I want to try to finish my opponents as much as possible and finish fights in general, but I had a tough opponent, and I had to ride it out and figure out his weaknesses as I go because we only had two days to prep for him. In those two days, it was mainly weight-cutting days,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen used his nearly ten years of experience taking on the greatest of the best in ONE Championship, along with his general skill set, to deal with his tremendously tough and sneakily deadly opponent.
The Vietnamese-American merely trusted in his skills, knowing that when he competes to the best of his ability, few, if any, featherweights on the earth can defeat him. This was done without taking the time to research Casotti.
“Zero. Nothing, nothing at all. I know that he was on a nine-fight winning streak…But in my head. I was just making sure that mentally I turned up. I’ve said it all week. I just got to make sure I turn up, and make sure I turn up just to keep reminding myself mentally that I have to turn up. Because when I turn up, man, everyone’s in trouble,” Nguyen recalls.
He also noted that he is interested in two names next and that he is just one win away from the title shot.
“I think one more [victory]. One more would solidify my title shot against Tang Kai. [#5-ranked] Shamil Gasanov, [#2-ranked] Garry Tonon. They’re my potential next opponents.”
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