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A talk with Vietnamese warrior Nam Phan: PRO MMA exclusive interview

26-year-old Vietnamese MMA fighter Nam Phan currently holds a professional record of 15-6. The California native has fought in such promotions as WEC, King of the Cage, K-1 Hero’s, Strikeforce, and is currently under contract with World Victory Road’s Sengoku organization.

Nam has fought twice so far in 2009. In his first fight of the year Nam defeated Hideki Kadowaki at Sengoku 7 back in March with a first round TKO. Then, two months later at Sengoku 8, he lost to Michihiro Omigawa in a first round TKO stoppage.

PRO MMA (promma.info) was able to catch up with the young fighter Monday evening for a few minutes as he took a break from instruction at his Garden Grove academy. Nam talked to us about his most recent fight against Omigawa, his school, his martial arts training that began at a very young age, MMA within the Vietnamese community, and what the future holds for this very talented athlete.

Nam Phan interview:
[podcast]http://promma.info/audio/nam-phan.mp3[/podcast]

PRO MMA: Thank you for speaking to us at PRO MMA (promma.info), how are things with you?
NAM PHAN: Things are going great, Jack.

PRO MMA: Cool. Have you been teaching today?
NAM PHAN: I’m teaching right now. The class is light today, I’m just working on my fighter that is going to be fighting in a couple of weeks, just critiquing his technique.

PRO MMA: You were last inside the ring at Sengoku 8 against Michihiro Omigawa back in May. Unfortunately, things didn’t go your way in that fight. Can you talk about Omigawa as an opponent and what took place in that fight?
NAM PHAN: Yeah sure no problem. The fight was good. He had a good gameplan, a lot of head movement. I think I respected his skill too much. I think I should have came with more pressure. He got a good takedown, did a good ground and pound, I think the ref stopped it kind of early.

PRO MMA: You often hear fighters say they learn more from a loss than a win. Do you think that is true and if so what were some things you learned from that fight?
NAM PHAN: I think you do learn some things from a loss more than you do from a win. Like in this fight I think I just gave him too much respect. I should have just came in there and killed the guy.

PRO MMA: Did you know a lot about him before the fight?
NAM PHAN: Yeah. I knew he was a high level Olympic judo player. He has a tough chin.

PRO MMA: How many fights are left on your Sengoku contract?
NAM PHAN: I think I got about one or maybe two more left.

PRO MMA: Have you heard any word when your next fight may be?
NAM PHAN: I’m not sure but I’ve been trying to work something out with those guys to try and get a fight maybe October or November.

PRO MMA: Do you like fighting here in the U.S. or in Japan better and why?
NAM PHAN: It’s really different. I like both, it’s just different. In America, the crowd definitely has more energy. The American crowd gets really rowdy. That’s fun, that’s cool. And in Japan the crowd is real quiet and respectable, you know.

PRO MMA: You own and run Madu Academy is that right? Can you tell us about your gym?
NAM PHAN: Yes, my academy, I opened it about a year ago. The one year anniversary is about to come up actually on July 18th, which is the same time I’m going to get my black belt in jiu-jitsu under Rick Estrada from Sub-Fighter. We teach Jiu-Jitsu, No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, Muay-Thai, boxing, and mixed martial arts training.

PRO MMA: When you prepare for a fight where do you train and who do you work with?
NAM PHAN: Right now I train with mostly my students. I try to show my students all the things I can so they become good and I have the best training partners possible. And I train with boxing.

PRO MMA: I know you are very proud of your Vietnamese heritage. Is MMA becoming more popular among the Vietnamese?
NAM PHAN: I think now it is because I’m trying to make mixed martial arts more aware in the Vietnamese community, and when I fight the Vietnamese media follows my career very closely.

PRO MMA: Do you think we will see more and more Vietnamese fighters as time goes on?
NAM PHAN: Oh for sure, I think so. I was looking at Sherdog, there was a couple of… I don’t remember their names, I think maybe Tuan Pham somewhere at one of these fights was 1-0. And Cung Le had a couple of Vietnamese fighters coming up. I think little by little we are inching our way into the mixed martial arts scene and breaking the Asian stereotypes.

PRO MMA: You have been involved with martial arts since almost the time you could walk basically is that right? Could you talk a little about your martial arts background and where and what different fighting styles you have studied.
NAM PHAN: Yeah pretty much. I actually did Tae-Kwon-Do when I was 4-years-old for about three months with my brothers. I think I was too young to realize what I was doing. Then I started doing some Vietnamese karate when I was about 8-years-old until I was about 16-and-a-half-years-old. Then I got my black belt in Vietnamese karate. Toward the end of that I started doing jiu-jitsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Franco De Camargo. I started about 17 and studied with him for about five years. I tried Gracie Barra for a short time. That’s when I started training with Jeremy Williams from the end of 2004 until his passing. And I continue training with Sub-Fighter, with Rick Estrada, Russ Muira, and Adam Lynn. And then I ended up opening my own academy. Oh yeah, and I do my boxing with Art James from Team Punchout.

PRO MMA: You are still very young at 26-years-old. What would you like to ultimately achieve in MMA?
NAM PHAN: If I could win a title at 145 lbs. that would be great. For me, I do mixed martial arts because I enjoy it. That’s what I say in all the interviews. I would just like to do the best I can before I retire and make my mark before I retire from MMA. That will be good enough for me.

PRO MMA: How long do you see yourself competing professionally?
NAM PHAN: I’ll probably retire when I’m like 31. I’ve been fighting, training, competing, since I was 8, competing in MMA since I was 18. You know, I’m pretty tired… I train every day.

PRO MMA: Would you just like to concentrate on teaching when you are done?
NAM PHAN: Yeah concentrate on teaching, maybe start a family or something.

PRO MMA: So, not married, no kids, or anything yet?
NAM PHAN: No, but it’s in the works.

PRO MMA: Thank you for talking with us today Nam and I wish you the very best. Is there anyone you would like to thank or send a shout-out to before we end?
NAM PHAN: Always. I would like to thank my sponsors No-Gi, Budo Videos and RevGear.com for all their support. I want to thank Art James and Team Punchout for helping me get ready for all my fights and getting my boxing really good. Rick Estrada, Russ Miura, and Adam Lynn from Sub-Fighter for helping me out. My Mom and Dad, my older brothers, my sister in Texas. And I would like to say thank you, I love you to my always supportive very lovely girlfriend Thao Ha. And all my students from the Madu Academy, thank you very much. And Jack for giving me this opportunity to do this very nice interview.

You can learn more about Nam Phan’s Madu Academy by visiting their website at www.iamnam.com.

By:  Jack Bratcher

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