One of ONE Championship’s biggest stars makes his long-awaited return to the cage on 12 April at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR.
ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen will defend his title against Mongolia’s greatest martial artist and former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa.
ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR will also feature a second world-title bout when ONE Strawweight World Champion Yosuke Saruta who defends his belt against Joshua “The Passion” Pacio in a rematch of a hard-fought battle from earlier in the year at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY. While Saruta-Pacio II should be an epic war, Nguyen and Jadambaa take the top of the bill.
One of the biggest storylines in this bout is Nguyen’s knee injury, recovery and the layoff since his last bout.
Nguyen hasn’t competed since July 2018 when he lost a unanimous decision to the now former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon. That match was for the interim title in the bantamweight division. Because of the injury Nguyen suffered, he chose to vacate the ONE Lightweight World Title so that others could compete for the belt in his absence. That title was won by Eduard Folayang, the man Nguyen knocked out to win the belt.
Folayang subsequently lost the title when he was submitted at ONE: A NEW ERA in Japan on 31 March. There’s a chance Nguyen could have his sights set on regaining the title, but for now, his focus is on Jadambaa.
Jadambaa has been the ONE Featherweight World Champion, so he knows what it’s like to hold the gold. Twice, he’s had a shot at Marat Gafurov since his initial reign, but the former champion whom Nguyen knocked out with one punch to dethrone has gotten the better of Jadambaa.
To Jadambaa’s credit, he has remained steadfast in his pursuit of the gold. Gafurov is the only man who has defeated him in ONE Championship. Quite honestly, at the age of 43, this could be Jadambaa’s last real shot at winning the title again with the promotion. He must seize the moment.
Let’s look at the different areas of both martial artists’ game to see who has the edge.
The champion has shown us time and again, he possesses the kind of electrifying one-punch power that can put his opponents out with one strike. He’s done it on multiple occasions and on the biggest of stages. Jadambaa is a tough guy, but he cannot afford to allow Nguyen to square him up for one of those bombs. Nguyen is a rather unorthodox striker, so it is difficult for opponents to see the punches coming, and that’s part of what makes him so tricky.
That’s not the case with Jadambaa. His hands aren’t as quick as Nguyen’s and he tends to load up his right hand. While he has heavy hands, a slick counter striker like Nguyen may be able to time Jadambaa and land. Jadambaa hasn’t proven to be the most difficult target. His head movement is only decent, and that might be something Nguyen and his team have already honed in on as the match approaches. Because of these points, Nguyen gets the advantage in striking.
Jadambaa has fallen victim to rear-naked chokes in both of his losses to Gafurov. He can get careless in scrambles and give up his back to an opponent. When he does that, he exposes himself to chokes, and that’s another thing that won’t be lost on Nguyen. Before Nguyen scored memorable KO wins over Gafurov and Folayang, The Situ-Asian was known primarily for his grappling and submissions. He still has that skill set to fall back on in this bout, and while he’d probably love another noteworthy KO, you have to think he’ll take a submission opportunity if it is presented.
On the surface, it may appear as though the experience category is somewhat even. That’s the case as it pertains to mixed martial arts, but the 43-year-old Jadambaa has been competing in combat sports for decades. The match with Nguyen will be his 20th pro-MMA bout and just the 15th for the champion. This is a tough one to call, so let’s call it virtually even, with a slight edge to Jadambaa.
Keys To Victory
Jadambaa must make this an ugly bout. He has to turn it into a brawl with tons of clinching, and hope that Nguyen’s conditioning isn’t up to par after his layoff. If he can drag the bout into the late rounds, he might have a chance to take advantage of what he hopes will be a compromised champion. Nguyen must be patient and stay ready to pounce on the striking opportunities that seem certain to be presented.
Expect Nguyen to land a heavy counterpunch that wobbles Jadambaa. However, the Mongolian is as tough as they come. Nguyen will have to take the neck and sink in the choke for the submission win.