Interview with MMA Downunder

MMA Downunder asked for me for an interview for a fighter profile feature they had for their site. Below is the excerpt of the main interview. Thanks MMA Downunder for doing the feature on me.

1) Where are you originally from and where did you grow up?

- I was born in Vietnam and my family moved to Australia as refugees when I was one. I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney but pretty much spent most of my life living in the western suburbs of Sydney.

2) Why did you first get into martial arts and how old were you?
- My first exposure to martial arts was when I was 15 yrs old (which is 17 yrs ago – man i’m an old fart. haha). I did Wushu which is basically Chinese Kung Fu. The story behind that was that back in the 90s I was a huge Jet Li fan and I had a friend who knew a Master who actually trained with Jet Li back in China and were friends, so that basically got me to do it. I only did it for two years though. Fast forward to 2006 and that’s when I started my first BJJ class which was when the real path to MMA started. So you can say I was a late bloomer. :)

3) Were you ever good at other sports?
- I don’t think there was a sport that I haven’t done. Unless it was water related (because I suck at water sports, haha) then I was pretty good. I played rugby league and basketball since I was young which I was pretty good at. I’m actually really good at ping pong – no it’s not an Asian joke. True story. Along the way I’ve played volleyball, soccer, golf… enjoy rock climbing. I think it’s just the competitive juices in me and always wanted to compete at something.

4) Who were your heroes growing up and who are the people that inspire you today?
- Growing up the person that inspired me the most was Michael Jordan. I was and still am a huge basketball fan and growing up, Michael Jordan was the pinnacle of greatness. It wasn’t just what he did on the basketball court, but the level of competitiveness in him, is what drove him to be great. And that’s probably where I’ve gotten all the competitiveness in me. He was the ultimate sportsperson.
Today, the people that inspire me the most is no one famous, rather just your average person out there striving to better themselves and achieve their goals. Whenever I hear stories of achievement no matter how big or small, it inspires me as well because I believe that we should continue to better ourselves on a continual basis and achieving things we set out to do is evidence of this which should be inspiring to anyone.

5) What keeps you motivated to train?

- Continuing to better myself in what I do. I’ve always been an advocate of the notion that if you’re going to do something, then you should do it right. I’ve got at least a few years left in me and I’m learning more and more every day. Knowing that I am far from perfect, yet willing to strive to be better in every aspect of the game keeps me motivated. When I hang up the gloves, I want to be able to say I gave it my best shot and put in 100%.

6) Do you ever have self-doubt when it comes to fighting and if so, how do you manage it?

- Of course. That’s part and parcel with pre-fight nerves. Part of you tries to convince you that you might not be prepared for your opponent or you left a stone unturned. But that’s where the mental aspect of this sport comes into it. You need to be able to remind yourself of all the hard training you’ve done to prepare  yourself for that fight. And that’s why a good training camp where you’re pushed to your limits is important. Good training partners too. You get tried and tested during your camp and get sent to hell and back and when you come out on the other end of that, you know you’re ready. And so you gotta keep reminding yourself of that whenever the feelings of self-doubt come up.

7) What is your most memorable win?

- My most memorable win would have to be against Tyson Kroehn at CFC15 in 2010. I was coming off 4 consecutive losses and It was a tough fight and I really had to dig deep to get that win. Tyson pushed me very hard and I can honestly remember somewhere in that 3rd round I questioned myself if I was able to keep going and pull out the win. I nearly mentally gave up, but thanks to my coach Luke Pezzutti, he was in my ear and telling me to dig deep, and when I finally got the finish, it was so much relief. And on top of that it was nice to be winning again.

8 ) Do you plan to stay at Flyweight in the future?
- Flyweight is where I’m going to stay. I’ve only had one fight at flyweight prior to this, and all the rest before were at Bantamweight and the size difference was really becoming an issue. I’ve had enough fights under my belt to not take just any fight for the sake of it anymore, so will just stay as a flyweight which is where I belong and make a case of being a dominant force at this weight.

9) What do you enjoy doing away from fighting?

- I still love playing basketball. Am still a huge rugby league fan, so watching that is a must. Still love my video games. And like to drop into the cinema every now and then.

10) Are you a goal setter and if so what are some short and long term
career goals?

- MMA wise, my goal is to be the best flyweight in Australia, and eventually be the CFC Flyweight champion. If I can eventually get a fight in the UFC now since they have a flyweight class, that would be great too, but not looking too far ahead with that. If I keep winning my fights, then doors will open.

Is there anyone you would like to thank? 
- I’d like to give huge thanks to my coach and personal friend, Luke Pezzutti. He has transformed me as a fighter at such a scale that I owe everything I know to him. I’d also like to thank everyone at Lion’s Den Academy who have been my training partners and friends as well. Even though I walk into that cage alone, this is definitely a team sport.
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