Vietnam Muay Thai ace knocks out Japanese champ at Singapore ONE Championship

By Dennis Khng   November 22, 2019 | 09:56 pm PT
Vietnam Muay Thai ace knocks out Japanese champ at Singapore ONE Championship
Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat (R) fights Yuta Watanabe at the ONE Championship in Singapore, November 22, 2019. Photo by VnExpress.
Vietnamese Muay Thai ace Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat knocked out Yuta Watanabe of Japan in a ONE Championship showdown in Singapore Friday night.

The Edge of Greatness bout started with both opponents sizing each other up, but as it progressed, Nhat began to dominate. In the first round, he gradually commanded the space with good positioning and two successful high kicks which tipped Watanabe, a kick boxing champion, temporarily. 

Nhat then upped the tempo and ended the round cornering his opponent and sending a rapid flurry of punches which took the wind out of the Japanese.

He discussed his game strategy after the fight: "I know that he likes to move around much so I let him do that while watching out for opportunities to strike... I also know he is a skillful kickboxer so when the opportunity came, I attacked his legs to prevent him from moving well. And when I saw he let his hand down, I struck with quick high kicks."

Nhat landed three powerful kicks to the head of Watanabe during the bout. The last one knocked Watanabe out flat, 30 seconds into the second round.

Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat fights Yuta Watanabe at ONE Championship in Singapore, November 22, 2019.

Founder, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, Chatri Sityodthong, said he was very impressed with the performance: "He is a real true global superstar; look at the way he took on a kickboxing champion (Watanabe)! He could possibly be Vietnam's first world champion in combat sport. I've so much respect for him."

ONE Championship is Asia's largest global sports media property with a global reach of 2.6 billion potential viewers across over 145 countries and territories.

Nhat, Vietnam's leading Muay Thai exponent, was born into a family of martial artists. His parents practiced Vietnamese traditional martial arts and taught their young son this fighting style. Nhat excelled in it, earning a black belt.

He, however, decided to start his professional career in boxing after graduating from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Sports. Eventually, he found himself gravitating towards Muay Thai and decided to switch focus to this sport.

His talent, skills, and determination in this fighting style has taken him far.

Nhat is currently the top Muay Thai fighter in Vietnam. The 30-year-old from Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands has been undefeated since the start of his professional career, winning all the tournaments in the country and is seven-time International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur champion.

Besides running his own gym in Saigon called "No.1 Muay Thai" and starring in TV projects, he is contracted to ONE Championship for the next two years.

More immediately, he will represent Vietnam in Muay Thai for the fourth time in the upcoming SEA Games held in the Philippines from November 30 to December 11. He is flying back to Ho Chi Minh City to link up with a team mate to train and prepare for the biannual regional event. "My aim in the SEA Games is to win gold," he said.

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