Having made the move to Florida’s Sanford MMA to train alongside the likes of fellow ONE champ Aung La N Sang, Australia’s Martin Nguyen returned to the cage at Inside the Matrix on Friday. The Singapore-based card, with a limited number of fans in attendance, marked the promotion’s return to a live mixed martial arts format, after airing a number of Thailand-based taped events comprised mainly of Muay Thai action early in the pandemic.
Nguyen’s featherweight title was on the line against Thanh Le, a legit prospect with a 100% finish rate. Nguyen was under fire early from Le, forced to shake off a number of attacks. The champion appeared to eat his strikes, and at least one kick, well. But Le was proving to be very much up to the challenge. Le relied heavily on his kicks as the round progressed, but Nguyen was able to press the action, continually coming forward, putting Le’s back to the cage. And Nguyen’s own kicks were arguably more powerful than the challenger’s.
In the second round, Nguyen found a home for his overhand right, and continued to bring the fight to the challenger. Le answered with a kick to the body, and showed some excellent lateral movement. The champ mixed in a few body shots, mixing up his strikes well. As the second round progressed, the question of Le’s cardio appeared more and more likely to be answered — to date, he had never gone the distance. In a three round fight, let alone five rounds with a title on the line. But through two, he was certainly finding some success.
As the third opened up, Le appeared as fresh as ever. Eating an overhand right, however, certainly got his attention. Nguyen went on the attack, ducking under a kick, landing a leg kick, winging lefts and rights. A right hand landed to the jaw. Le fired back, but Nguyen was getting the better of what had become a firefight. Le was cracked a couple more times, Nguyen’s right hand being his best weapon. Le had slowed, but his own right hand connected, and dropped the champ! Nguyen was in serious trouble. The pair wound up in a scramble, with Le connecting again. Nguyen was out on his feet, and the ref had seen enough!
Thanh Le 🇻🇳🇺🇸 shocks the world, KNOCKING OUT Martin Nguyen to claim the ONE Featherweight World Title! @ThanhLeMMA #InsideTheMatrix #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship
How to watch ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX 👉 https://t.co/xoYhoMn3qk pic.twitter.com/IurvP9abET
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) October 30, 2020
Ahead of Friday’s title fight, Martin Nguyen had said that the featherweight division was where he belonged, after pursuing other titles in the past. Now, he’ll have to regroup, and start to put together another run in the weight class. Although a second fight between the pair is not outside the realm of possibility. Thanh Le, meanwhile, has graduated from prospect to champ.
Official Result: Thanh Le def. Martin Nguyen by knockout, Round 3, 2:19