Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Martin Nguyen’s sacrifices pays off as he gets much-deserved title shot

“The life of a professional martial artist is difficult, but I understand that in order to be the best, we have to make certain sacrifices. Spending time away from friends and family to train isn’t easy,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen admitted the most painful sacrifice is the separation from his family, but he knows that there is a reward waiting for him.

“It’s part of being a professional martial artist. A lot of sacrifices have been made. Training in December was one of them. I had to give up Christmas celebrations for this fight. I missed a lot of family activities such as birthdays and reunions,” he stated.

“If I want to consider myself as a championship-quality athlete in this sport, I have to make that sacrifice. In the end, I will reap the fruits of my labor. Hard work cannot be denied forever,” Nguyen added.

Nguyen’s sacrifices inside the ONE Championship finally paid off as he is set to vie for prestigious gold in his upcoming bout.

The 28-year-old Vietnamese-Australian stalwart is booked to square off with with Marat “Cobra” Gafurov of Russia in a rematch for the ONE Featherweight World Championship in the main event of ONE: QUEST OF GREATNESS, which takes place at the iconic Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 18 August.

Nguyen earned his much-deserved shot at Gafurov’s coveted gold-plated strap after notching a remarkable first-round knockout victory over Japanese journeyman Kazunori Yokota last January.

After nearly two years of trying, Nguyen finally found himself back in a contest for the ONE Featherweight World Championship title.

“I am back. I really worked hard for this. I know you hear it from many athletes that their dream is to become a world champion. I would say the same. It’s the main objective of every martial artist in this sport,” he articulated.

Nguyen finds himself coming up against an overwhelming favorite in Gafurov, but according to the challenger, it is a role that he thrives in.

“I love being the underdog. Being the underdog takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders as well. I am already reading posts from fans about how Marat is going to take me out in round one again, but it was more of the nerves and my mistake in the first bout that he capitalized on,” he shared.

“I did not really show any weaknesses in the first bout, so come this second bout, he will be very surprised if he is taking me lightly,” Nguyen guaranteed.

When Nguyen took a very short-notice bout against Gafurov for the interim ONE Featherweight World Championship belt in September 2015, he suffered his first professional loss in just 41 seconds as the Russian combatant effortlessly latched on a rear-naked choke.

The submission setback could have swallowed Nguyen whole, but it only freed him from the burden of maintaining a perfect record.

Using his defeat to Gafurov as a defining moment to learn, Nguyen was able to ace his four next assignments with flying colors, defeating the likes of Edward Kelly, Li Kai Wen, Christian Lee and Yokota.

With the scintillating performance against Yokota seven months ago, Nguyen put everyone on notice that he regained his position as one of the top featherweight contenders in ONE Championship.

“I had to make a statement to let everyone know I am coming back, and wanting this rematch against Marat. So, everything we worked for, I had to put out there in the first round. It took three and a half minutes, but eventually, I got the knockout,” he recalled.

Although the undefeated Gafurov is widely considered as the most dominant featherweight in the world today, Nguyen remains optimistic that he has what it takes to pull the upset.

“Marat Gafurov is just human at the end of the day, so if I bring the same pressure and same aggressive style to my opponent, then it is up to him to adjust,” he said.

With his painful past behind him, Nguyen is confident that he will walk out of Stadium Negara with the ONE Featherweight World Championship around his waist.

“I foresee my hand getting raised at the end of this bout. This is not going to go five rounds. It is either him finishing me or me finishing him, and I will do everything I can to finish this match,” he guaranteed.

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