Two-division world champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen made his first successful title defence on Friday, 18 May with a split decision victory over Christian Lee.
The Singapore Indoor Stadium was treated to five full rounds of action, as Nguyen and Lee showcased their skills in a rematch for the ONE Featherweight World Championship.
The rivals showed each other a great deal of respect in the first few minutes, making tentative moves without throwing much in the way of significant offence.
The first major action occurred when Lee feinted a right hand and dived in for a body lock, which led to a big throw and “The Warrior” wound up in mount with time to work.
Nguyen stood up, but Lee locked in a guillotine, which was defended, but he immediately switched to a D’arce choke. “The Situ-Asian” showed his resilience and patience, as he hung on and escaped.
However, the champion seemed frustrated as the round came to a close, shaking his head on the way to his corner.
The second round had both men trading shot for shot, but the pace was not high enough for referee Yuji Shimada, who gave warnings to both men at about the midway point of the frame.
Nguyen continued to hunt down Lee as the round progressed, attempting to land his giant overhand right, but Lee was wary of the danger and defended well.
The challenger was the aggressor in the third stanza, however, Nguyen chopped at the leg of the Evolve MMA product, looking to slow him down.
However, the referee was still not happy with the athletes’ activity and he gave both men a yellow card. With just 33 seconds left in the stanza, Nguyen went for his first takedown of the contest but was unable to get Lee to the mat.
The championship rounds were a new experience for Lee, who attempted a number of takedowns, but it was Nguyen who got the bout to the mat with just under two minutes left in the fourth.
The champion wasted no time when the two hit the ground, as he let loose with his most significant offence, throwing a flurry of punches at Lee, who was flat on his back.
The final round saw Lee attempt more takedowns, but Nguyen seemed to just have more confidence and championship nous. Nguyen was very relaxed through the bout and kept his composure wherever he was. The fans inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium were on their feet as the round came to a close.
After five full rounds of action, the judges could not come to a unanimous decision, but Martin Nguyen kept the ONE featherweight championship around his waist.
Following the contest, Nguyen apologised for his performance, but promised a finish the next time he competes.