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Reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen had the sense that something in his game was awry, yet he couldn’t quite put his finger on exactly what it was.

Despite having only recently been crowned as the first dual-division king in ONE Championship history when he added the ONE Lightweight World Championship to go along with the featherweight crown that he already held, the up and down nature of his bouts since had left the Vietnamese-Australian with a pervading intuition that a piece of his puzzle was missing.

It was only after sustaining an injury following his loss to Kevin Belingon that laid him off for the rest of 2018 that he really had an opportunity to take a moment to seriously reflect and conduct some long overdue self-analysis.

“It took me to get injured to sit down and analyze what had gone wrong,” admits Nguyen. “In a way, it was a blessing in disguise.”

Nguyen went through his past few bouts, including two losses, and noticed some trends that he found concerning, and came to an enlightening conclusion.

“I felt that in the space of six to seven months I was the same fighter and I hadn’t changed one bit and I was a bit disappointed in all three performances,” said Nguyen.

It forced him to ask himself some challenging questions about the trajectory his career was currently taking, irrespective of the unique level of success he’d achieved.

That soul-searching culminated in one groundbreaking decision – it was time to leave Australia for new horizons and a new fight team. That also meant relocating to the United States for his fight camps, as Nguyen set off to join Hard Knocks 365 in Florida.

“I had to step outside the circle to evolve and what better way to do it than coming to Hard Knocks 365, training under the likes of Henri Hooft with all these world-class fighters inside the gym.

“That’s the way I saw it. I had to step outside the circle and train with lions to become a lion.”

The move immediately paid dividends with an emphatic win over Narantungalag Jadambaa in April, and now Nguyen is preparing to take on Japan’s Koyomi Matsushima in Manila at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in Manila on 2 August.

“He’s very elusive and he’s very explosive. We’ll come to test his cardio, see what he’s like under pressure and we’ll see how the fight plays out from there,” Nguyen concluded.