Count former ONE Championship double-champ Martin Nguyen among the fighters singing the praises of Sanford MMA.
“The Situ-Asian,” who returns to action later this month at ONE: Revolution, joined the gym last year, and explained what appealed to him in a recent exclusive interview with Cageside Press.
“Sanford is more like a family vibe. You don’t have cliques like you do at other gyms. Everyone trains together. Everyone does the same thing,” Nguyen (13-4) stated. “There’s no ‘I’m going to be with this person because I match with this person, I’m going to be with this person because I don’t like this person.’ Everyone is together to do one thing, and that’s to get better. That’s what really intrigued me to keep coming back, because obviously the training is unbelievable, but the family vibes were making me feel at home.”
Another way to put it: “Everyone’s just down to earth. You think, like, fighters are just mean and arrogant, and don’t get me wrong, I have ran into a lot of mean and arrogant fighters, but Sanford is just another level.”
Nguyen makes the trip over to Florida for his fight camps, leaving his home country of Australia each time out. And the difference between the two is clear as day as the coronavirus pandemic lurches onward. “Open for business. As good as it sounds, and it is kind of good. Florida has gone back to normal for everything,” said Nguyen. “There are variants that are around, but I think the majority of the people are getting vaccinated or are in the process getting vaccinated. There are people that are anti[vaxx], but it’s their freedom of choice, that’s the main thing.”
“I don’t know how Florida works, but everything’s back to normal, open for tourism. We’re getting a lot of, a lot of people because they’re open for tourism coming through. It must say something, right?”
Of course, ONE: Revolution is in neither Australia nor the U.S., but back in Singapore with a limited number of fans in attendance. Nguyen is happy to see fans back in the building for this next fight.
“That’s why we’re here, we’re entertainers. That’s the sole purpose of fighting, to entertain.”
His last outing, against Thanh Le, saw Nguyen lose his featherweight title, and he admitted following the fight to letting his emotions get the better of him. Now, nearly a year later, Nguyen isn’t about to make excuses — but he has certainly learned a lesson.
“It was just more of, fight week. A lot was going on during fight week, I won’t get into it, but a lot was happening during fight week, and I felt that it was kind of— it is what it is. A lot happened fight week, and I let that get to me emotionally,” Nguyen admitted. “All I really wanted to do, because I was there to fight, was just to hurt the guy. And I know that comes with fighting, but I just wanted that extra hurt.” All the hard work he had put in to claim the title, the respect for the title itself, “just went out the window. And I just went in there to throw bombs. Not smart.”
It paid dividends for his opponent in the end. “That’s why I say every single time I get asked, I came to fight, he came to win,” Nguyen added. “And he got the job done.”
Martin Nguyen will now look to get the job done, and get back on track, against South Korea’s Jae Woong Kim.
“He’s a great fighter. He’s a good fighter. He’s earned his way into the top five,” Nguyen replied when asked about the match-up. “Like anyone else in the division, they’d start calling out people just to keep climbing up that ladder. He did a smart move, he called out a guy who had just lost the title, and I’m his ticket to getting that title shot.”
“Overall, in general, he is a good fighter. I’m not going to say he’s sh*t, because he wouldn’t be in the top five if he was,” Nguyen continued. “It’s going to be a good clash come the 24th.”
Watch our full interview with Martin Nguyen above. ONE Championship: Revolution takes place September 24, 2021, live in Kallang, Singapore.