The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) is a reality show where one person wins a six figure contract with the leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The contract hopefuls live together in a house in Las Vegas, their lives captured on camera for our entertainment. During this season’s premiere episode of TUF 12, I noticed a nerdy looking Asian guy with glasses and wondered, “who is that guy?” That guy was Nam Phan, a professional MMA fighter.
In a brief voice over describing his background, he explained how he was proud of being an Asian-American and how martial arts were a family tradition. He says in this interview:
I’ve been fighting for 10 years now, and every time I walk out to the cage, I think, ‘I should have listened to my dad and become a businessman. What the heck am I doing here? This is freaking stupid. This guy is about to beat the crap out of me.’
Despite being a veteran 16-7 fighter, having fought all over the world against notable fighters such as former WEC lightweight champion Rob “Razor” McCullough, he seems to have listened to his dad and is a businessman, owning and running his own martial arts school.
To get into the house, he had to face another fighter who was also contending for a contract. I was impressed by how Phan took out WEC veteran Mike Budnik with a liver punch. This technique is a blow to the liver that incapacitates the recipient. He may look nerdy but delivers a nasty punch!
Ironically he won’t be the first Asian-American on TUF. Phan’s friend Andy Wang was the first, and became infamous for not following his coach BJ Penn’s instructions and getting kicked off his team. Philippe Nover was another Asian-American on TUF. He did well in the show but lost in the finals. I am not sure how well Nam Phan will do in the competition . He looked a lot smaller than many of the other lightweight (155 lbs) fighters, and I was not surprised to read that he also had fought at featherweight (145 lbs). I’ll definitely be watching to see how he does. The Ultimate Fighter airs on Wednesday nights on the Spike TV channel.