One Championship featherweight titleholder Martin Nguyen has become one of the faces of the Singapore-based promotion over the last five years, and his journey to this point in his career has been filled with surprising twists and turns. The son of Vietnamese immigrants, Nguyen, 30, grew up in the “Aussie life.” His parents escaped a war-torn nation and chose to start a family in Australia — a country with a welcoming nature to those from abroad.
“I wasn’t bullied or discriminated against for being Asian,” Nguyen told Sherdog.com. “I was raised as an Australian kid.”
Though he once dreamed of stardom on the rugby pitch, his small size and recurrent shoulder injuries forced him to look in other directions. Nguyen accompanied a neighbor to a taekwondo school that also offered Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. He was instantly hooked, later incorporated striking and ultimately made the transition to mixed martial arts. “The Situ-Asian” made his pro debut in July 2012 and joined the One Championship roster as a 3-0 prospect a little more than two years later.
Nguyen finished five of his first six opponents under the One Championship roster, a submission loss to eventual featherweight champion Marat Gafurov his only misstep. Two years later, he avenged the setback, knocked out Gafurov and captured One Championship gold. The victory catapulted Nguyen into an ambitious two-fight run in which he attempted to become a three-division champion.