New ONE Championship featherweight champion Martin Nguyen didn’t expect to be offered a fight with lightweight title-holder Eduard Folayang so soon after claiming his belt.
“It was 6am and I was going through my emails before morning training,” he said. “I was like, ‘Ho-ly s**t! Man, this is massive news!’”
The Vietnamese-Australian was hesitant to take the fight at first. He and Folayang are friends, and his stature means he was more inclined to target Bibiano Fernandes’ bantamweight belt if a change in weight class was on the cards. But the chance to beat arguably the biggest star in Asia was so big, he couldn’t refuse it.
Despite the size disadvantage, he’s also supremely confident of winning and extending his winning streak – and run of consecutive knockout victories – to six, but will be ready for a long battle too.
“I always go for the finish, but I train for the worst case scenario – five rounds. Coming up a weight division wasn’t on my agenda but I’ll go with the flow.”
And as if the odds, size and experience being against ‘The Situ-Asian’ wasn’t enough, just about every single person in the 20,000 capacity Mall of Asia Arena in Manila will be rooting against him tomorrow. But Nguyen is used to being counted out. He was a -600 underdog in his last fight but still walked away from Marat Gafurov with the belt. He’s backing himself to make it two champions’ scalps in a row.
“I don’t expect anything less for them to go for their local superhero, but I’ve been the underdog my whole career. It’s nothing new to me.”