On Friday, December 8, Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat steps back into ONE Championship action for the first time in four years. After COVID-19 delayed his return, “No. 1” is ready for a run at the gold. The Vietnamese star will meet Denis Puric in a flyweight Muay Thai contest at ONE Fight Night 17.
“Since I couldn’t really fight, I focused on coaching. I worked as a coach for the Vietnamese National Kun Khmer Team, which competed at SEA Games 2023. Caring for the athletes, setting up plans, being with them in the corners, sharing my experiences with them – all those memories will stay with me forever,” Duy Nhat told ONE.
However, the 34-year-old did more than coach. Duy Nhat was still an active competitor in his home nation. Duy Nhat tried his hand at mixed martial arts in order to help keep the sport growing for the next generation of Vietnamese athletes.
“There were two reasons [why I took up MMA]. Firstly, martial arts – especially MMA – are on their way up in Vietnam. But everything related to MMA is still new. I believed if I could show up and let people see how exciting and incredible MMA is, then the sport would grow faster in my country. Secondly, there are many great MMA and Muay Thai fighters in ONE Championship. Seeing them break out of their comfort zones and try a new sport gave me great inspiration. I thought, ‘What if I could do the same thing?’ And here we go,” Duy Nhat explained.
Back on the global stage, Duy Nhat is preparing to reenter the flyweight title scene. All he worked for four years ago has been wiped away by time, and the flyweight division is full of hungry contenders chasing Rodtang Jitmuangnon. The 34-year-old knows he needs to make a big impression in U.S. primetime.
Understanding the stakes that await at ONE Fight Night 17, “No. 1” has been breaking down the game of his Bosnian opponent. Both skills and heart have impressed the Vietnamese athlete. Still, he expects to hold the edge when all facets of the game are considered.
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“Denis Puric is a good fighter with heavy punches, so I won’t take him lightly. All aspects of the game need to be calculated, especially how I would use my kicks and my movements. I watched some of his fights. I noticed his hands, his strength, his guts, and how explosive he could be. I’m more about the technical side, so controlling the fight, keeping him at bay with kicks and movements, and wearing him down will be my top priorities. But of course, I don’t mind having a KO win, if there is a chance to do so,” the Vietnamese star said.
He is aware that Puric’s power could change the complexion of the bout at any given moment. That is why he is not planning to come out guns blazing recklessly. He believes his technical advantage will win the day.
“Anything is possible. I think we will probably spend the first round testing each other, then things will heat up in the later rounds of the match. I believe in my experience, my skills, and my soul as a Muay Thai fighter. I will try my best to achieve the win,” Duy Nhat remarked.
ONE Fight Night 17 airs live on Friday, December 8, on Prime Video. The action begins at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST. The event is free for all Amazon Prime members based in the U.S. and Canada.