Fighter of the Week: Ben Nguyen
Ben “10” Nguyen
Pro Record: 16 wins & 6 losses
Association: Integrated MMA
Weight Class: Flyweight/Bantamweight
In this week’s addition of Fight of the Week we take a look at Ben Nguyen, who beat favorite and the Takeover’s #9 Flyweight Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night 110. Elliott came into this bout on an absolute tear. Elliott won his last three Titan FC fights and becoming a cast member on TUF 24, with the winner getting an immediate shot at Demetrious Johnson and the Flyweight belt. Elliott would win the show and get that shot, coming up just short in a decision victory for ‘Mighty Mouse’, but giving Johnson his toughest test in years. Elliott would come off that loss and beat Louis Smolka by unanimous decision, earning Fight of the Night in the process. Smolka, ironically, has been Nguyen’s only loss in the last seven years when he fell by TKO last year at UFC Fight Night 91. But as history has proven, and as Nguyen proved at UFC Fight Night 110, “MMA Math” just doesn’t work and in the fight game, anything can happen.
Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American who grew up in South Dakota. He said he started Taekwondo as a child to prevent the bullying he was receiving at school. After high school he started training MMA, something he said like many other fighters, is a natural progression. Nguyen started college in pursue of an engineering degree before realizing in order to pursue his dream of fighting MMA professionally, he’d have to give it all up and focus solely on training. He soon after quit school and started training and fighting in local and smaller promotions in South Dakota and other areas of the United States. Success didn’t come easy, though, or at times at all. Nguyen would start his MMA career at just 7-5 and he wasn’t getting the results or recognition from the bigger promotions as he’d hoped. He had even quit fighting for a couple of years, and working as a Geek Squad member at Best Buy. Then one day he heard that the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Thailand was holding a tryout and he dropped everything, quit his job, and flew to Thailand to tryout. Fortunately, he made the team and even met his future wife at the gym and the rest is history.
Nguyen would start seeing the success he’d hope for after the move to Thailand. His skills were getting better and the results were too. He was already a 3rd-degree black belt and now he’s now a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and a green belt in judo with serious training in Muay Thai as well. After meeting his future wife, kickboxer April Adams, he followed her to Brisbane Australia where they would settle in and make their home. Nguyen would join the Integrated MMA team and this is where his career would change and he’d start reaping the rewards of his hard work and training.
After joining Integrated MMA, Nguyen would win the Nitro and K-Oz Championships, both at bantamweight. He’d also become the #1 bantamweight in Australia in the process. The UFC took notice and while negotiating with the UFC Nguyen would go on to defend his Nitro title at Nitro 12 and with the UFC Fight Night 65 coming up in Nguyen’s ‘hometown’ Australia, he would get his shot after a long 8 years at the biggest spotlight in the world for MMA. Nguyen would make his flyweight debut against Alp Ozkilic and win by TKO in round 1. Nguyen would follow that up at UFC 193, also in Australia and beat Ryan Benoit by submission (rear-naked-choke) also in round 1. Nguyen would see his first UFC loss, and first loss in 6 years when he faced Smolka at UFC Fight Night 91. The fight would go back and forth in round 1, but Nguyen was bloodied and Smolka would end the fight in round 2 by TKO. Nguyen, however, would bounce back just four months later and dominate Geane Herrera on his way to a decision victory at UFC Fight Night 101 in Australia. This win would set up a scheduled fight at UFC Fight Night 110 with Joseph Benavidez, by far the biggest of Nguyen’s career and best competition he’d have faced. Unfortunately, Benavidez was forced to pull out due to a knee injury and was replaced by Elliott.
Elliott came in as the favorite after the run he was on and taking the champ, Johnson, to a decision. But the underdog Nguyen needed less than a minute to end the fight and pick up the biggest win of his career, 8 years in the making. He was able to rock Elliott with a head kick early and on the ground showed his skill by sinking in a rear-naked-choke and picking up the Performance of the Night bonus in the process for a cool $50k. This was a statement win for Nguyen and showed he is ready for a jump in competition in the UFC’s flyweight division. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him and Benavidez get their fight scheduled again next, especially with the rumors of T.J. Dillashaw dropping down to face Johnson. Either way, Nguyen proved he’s ready for top competition in the division.
On a side note, if you guys want a laugh youtube search “tattooed bully acts tough and gets knocked out in 20 seconds”. This is a video that has millions of hits and has been passed around countless times. You may have even seen it before. I’ve seen it a few times and didn’t realize it was Nguyen who did the damage. This is from a fight with Julian Rabaud in Nitro where Rabaud apparently tried to intimidate Nguyen at weigh-ins… and… it didn’t work. Enjoy.