Martin Nguyen: Our secret celebrity fights

Celebrity among us: Martin 'The Situ-Asian' Nguyen is a celebrity in Asia but he's just your average guy when he walks the streets back home. Picture: Chris Lane
Celebrity among us: Martin 'The Situ-Asian' Nguyen is a celebrity in Asia but he's just your average guy when he walks the streets back home. Picture: Chris Lane

Martin Nguyen is an average guy when he walks the streets of Macarthur.

But in Asia his face is featured on digital billboards and people request selfies with the mixed martial arts celebrity.

The Vietnamese-Australian fighter, 29, just returned home to Narellan Vale from Manilla after coming close to winning his third world championship.

Despite the defeat, he’s already preparing for the next fight.

“I injured my toe four minutes in and continued to fight for the whole 25 minutes,” he said.

“I was in excruciating pain but when adrenaline kicks in you keep fighting to show you’re a warrior.

“I train up to six hours a day and have a team to get me ready – nutritionist, physiotherapist, conditioning coach, striking coach, wrestling coach and head coach.”

Nguyen’s recent, sudden spike in popularity came after winning his world championship bouts.

He said there were times when his fame and associated travel – this week he is visiting Asia for the eighth time this year – can be overwhelming.

“The company I compete for, One Championship, is the largest organisation in the whole of east Asia,” Nguyen said.

“It feels pretty surreal to see my face on a bus stop or fighting on video billboards but when I get home I’m just another person on the street and can live my life without getting judged. I like to keep my home life as private as possible. My son thinks I’m famous but that’s because I come up on Youtube and Google. I keep trying to tell him I’m not.”

Nguyen’s most important supporters and biggest fans are his family.

“We started young – I have three children who are nine, seven and three,” he said.

“I grew up in Liverpool and I still train there but my family and I live inCamdennow.

“Even though it might be late in Australia they stay up to watch my bouts.”

Nguyen didn’t always expect to have a career in MMA.

“I came from rugby league and had to hang up the boots due to a couple of injuries,” he said.

“I began working as a mechanic and before I knew it I was leading an unhealthy lifestyle and getting fat. 

“I started jiu jitsu to lose weight. I fell in love with the competitiveness and discipline the sport brought.”

Despite the physical toll the sport takes on his body, Nguyen has no regrets.

“I’ve had some serious injuries but no regrets,” he said.

“If you put your mind, your heart and soul into something, you can get it.

“​When I won my first championship I was fighting someone who’d beaten me previously and I used that as motivation.”