Featherweight king Martin Nguyen still wants to get a win in the bantamweight division

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ONE Championship superstar Martin Nguyen claimed a special slice of martial arts lore when he defeated Eduard Folayang at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD in Manila at the end of 2017.

The victory secured “The Situ-Asian” the ONE Lightweight World Championship alongside the ONE Featherweight World Championship that he already owned to become the first dual-division champion in the burgeoning promotion’s history.

Far from satisfied with such an accomplishment, Nguyen proved he wasn’t one to rest on his laurels by immediately setting his sights on a third world championship belt in the bantamweight division.

Unfortunately, it proved a bridge too far for Nguyen. He came up short in a narrow split decision loss to legendary champion Bibiano Fernandes, then a few months later dropped another decision to Kevin Belingon in a bout for the division’s interim world title.

While Nguyen has since vacated the lightweight title due to injury, he still reigns atop the featherweight division where he’s proven unstoppable. That said, he still can’t shake the nagging fact that he’s yet to have his hand raised at bantamweight.

“I’ve always got a chip on my shoulder about the bantamweight division. I know I say I’m done with that division, but I have this chip on my shoulder where I have to at least get a win there,” Nguyen confesses.

While it seems we may not have seen the last of Nguyen at that lighter weight class, his immediate concern lies with his upcoming opponent Koyomi Matsushima at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in Manila on 2 August.

“That might be something later on that I might revisit but at the moment I’m focusing on Matsushima and a couple more guys in my weight division,” he continued. 

The Japanese up-and-comer has stamped his mark quickly and emphatically in his opening two bouts with ONE Championship, catching Nguyen’s eye against one particular opponent he’s very familiar with.

“To be honest I didn’t know him until he fought his first bout against Marat Gafurov, and I thought ‘this guy’s pretty decent’,” he said.

“I kept an eye on him and when he fought Kwon Won Il, he dominated. Congrats to him, he deserves a title shot after that,” Nguyen added. 

Nguyen’s respect well and truly earned, the Vietnamese-Australian still has complete confidence he has the tools to get the better of Matsushima wherever the contest may take place.

“I love the catch wrestling, I love the scrambling and I think my cardio is one step ahead of his, as is my striking.  We’ll see what he’s like under pressure and we’ll see how the fight plays out from there,” he concluded.