If you’re a fighter, you’ve gone 0-2 in your first two outings inside the UFC, and they’ve both been frustrating decision losses, what do you do next? If you’re Nam Phan, the answer is jump right back in the Octagon, of course.
WEC veteran Phan is hurting right now. After ending up on the bad side of a controversial split-decision loss to Leonard Garcia last December, the 28-year-old is now fresh from another loss. Nam faced former featherweight champion Mike Brown in his last outing earlier this month at UFC 133 where the powerhouse wrestler took down the Vietnamese fighter and controlled him on the ground for the majority of the bout. Now Phan will be making a quick turn around on 7-weeks’ notice in order to take on the always tough Matt Grice, who was originally expected to face Josh Grispi before the former contender bowed out of their bout due to injury.
The two featherweights will meet on the preliminary portion of UFC 136, which takes place in Houston, Texas at the Toyota Center on October 8th.
If it wasn’t bad enough losing twice in-a-row in your sole two fights in the UFC, it was the road to get back into shape that was the worst part for Nam.
“I didn’t know I was going to get back into it this fast”, said the native Californian. “I took one week off and in that week, I just tried to eat as much bad food as I could. My body is very polluted from all the greasy food and candy, chocolate cake and stuff…it’s tough, but I’m getting back into it for sure.”
Happy to redeem himself, Phan was more than thrilled when UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby asked him a very serious question that would determine his career here on out.
“‘Look, Grispi got hurt and we’re looking for some ninjas, maybe some chop-saki-flying-spinning-triple-axe-kicks. Do you know anybody that can do that’”, recalled Phan, holding back a laugh.
“And I said, ‘You’re looking for a ninja? I’m your ninja, let’s do this’. So he gave me a call back to confirm with Grice and here we are today.”
Though Grice holds a subpar 1-4 record inside the Octagon, Nam, who’s a near ten-year pro as a mixed martial artist, doesn’t overlook his opponent by any means. In his bout with Brown, Phan upped the intensity of training, having included the likes of current Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez into the fold knowing full well of the dangers Brown presented. Phan will be looking at Grice as if he’s another former world champion looking to reclaim some glory.
“He’s definitely a tough dude. I’m going to take this fight like the Brown fight. I’m going to expect the best fighter and take it to him.”
As Nam would suggest, the only way he will win this fight is by some form of stoppage. It’s not an ego or bravado he puts on to say “I finish fights, bro”. He just thinks he’s destined for losses if the judges have something to do with it. In the case of Grice, he’ll be looking to crack the riddle and prove his worth by recording his first win in the UFC.
“My observations so far with my fights: I cannot win a decision if my life depended on it. I need a finish. If it’s a decision I already know I lost, so I got to finish this guy.
“Every fight is a challenge. I have to solve the puzzle in a different way and Grice is just another problem that I need to solve.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC