Martin Nguyen has a well earned reputation for power. He has scored some stunning knockouts during a ONE Championship career that has spanned 13 fights and two titles.

He has knocked out some of the top fighters on the roster with an overhand right and fans might think Nguyen’s strategy is just to throw the strike until the opponent falls. But the reigning featherweight champion says a lot of thought goes into landing that killer blow,

“During a match I like to play chess with my opponent. I do feel strong but I think it’s the punches that you don’t see coming that hurt the most, my timing and my precision,” he said.

Nguyen also says it is not just a question of launching missiles continually until one strikes the target. To finish an opponent with a single strike he first needs to trick them into making a mistake,

“If you’re on point then it’s very rare that you’ll get hit with the overhand right. But if I’ve got opponents that are throwing continuous strikes and they’re not mixing it up I like the right hand.”

Setting traps

However Nguyen doesn’t simply sit and wait, hoping his opponent will leave an opening. The 31 year old likes to set traps and some of the best fighters on the ONE roster have been caught in them,

“I like to bait them so I’ll drop my hands, give them my head, and move it side to side. As soon as I see my opponent giving that muscle twitch and moving towards that target I like to dip to my left and come over with the right.”

Nguyen is happy to share this information despite knowing that future opponents could pick up on it. It is the confidence which comes from a career that has seen him win 10 out of 13 fights for ONE Championship.

But the reigning ONE featherweight champion is always looking to evolve and improve as a fighter. It is a mission that has found him spending several months of the year in Florida.

He trains under Henri Hooft at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale. You might spot a familiar face among his teammates there, Aung La Nsang has also relocated to Florida in order to join the camp.

Comfort zone

Nguyen felt he needed to leave his native Australia inside in order to realize his true potential as a fighter,

“The reason for the move was I had to step outside my comfort zone to train with the best. You have to train with lions and I made that move and I’ve never looked back since.”

Nguyen wasn’t doing too badly before he started training at Hard Knocks 365. But he believes that the signs of improvement will be obvious when he next fights,

“I’ve gained so much more confidence not only in my striking but my wrestling, it’s just built in an inner fire inside me and I’m ready to display it.”

He is expected to face Thanh Le next in a featherweight title fight. Future opponents have received fair warning about the right hand but Nguyen might just have some new weapons in his arsenal by the time he next steps into the cage.