by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At tonight’s Strikeforce event in San Jose there will be plenty of talented youngsters on the card, but possibly none may shine brighter at the end of the evening than California’s own Nam Phan.
Phan, a long time underground fan favorite, has been impressively carving out a name for himself in the lightweight rankings over the past couple of years, amassing a record of 12-2.
Now at Strikeforce, Nam will be getting the biggest opportunity of his career as he locks horns with the one and only “Punk” himself, Josh Thomson, in a fight that could very well determine the future of Strikeforce’s 155-pound division.
MMAWeekly caught up with Phan shortly before he headed up to San Jose to take the next step in his career and discussed the fight, his future and what keeps him focused.
MMAWeekly: First off Nam, for our readers that may be unfamiliar with you, give us some info on yourself.
Nam Phan: My name’s Nam Phan, I’m 23 years old, I’m 5’7″, I fight at 155 pounds, I’ve been fighting since I was 18. I’ve fought in the WEC, King of the Cage and a lot of underground shows. I’ve fought guys like “Razor” Rob [McCullough], Ryan Diaz and Jason Maxwell – who knocked out Jens Pulver. I’m going to be fighting Josh Thomson at Strikeforce.
MMAWeekly: What can fans expect to see from you when they come out to Strikeforce on Friday?
Nam Phan: I think I bring a lot of fancy jiu-jitsu and I’m pretty known for some quick submissions, takedowns and kind of a lot of wild punches.
MMAWeekly: So the fans are definitely going to see something exciting in your fight against Josh huh?
Nam Phan: Yeah they’ll see something. [Laughs] Hopefully, we’ll see…I think I’m entertaining, but we’ll see what they think.
MMAWeekly: What are your thoughts on getting an opportunity to fight a name fighter such as Josh Thomson?
Nam Phan: It’s going to be the toughest fight of my career. Josh has fought guys like Hermes Franca, Yves Edwards and at one time he was one of the Top 10 lightweights in the world. So it’s a big step up for me to fight a guy like Josh Thomson, but I’m prepared, my skill level is up to par and I’m ready to fight.
MMAWeekly: It has to feel good that you’re finally getting an opportunity to have your big break after being one of the buzzed about fighters for a while now.
Nam Phan: It feels pretty good. Right now I’m at Strikeforce, my life has changed – I’m getting paid well now, I’m fighting top-notch competition and I think now I can finally get recognized for my abilities and show what I can do. I’m happy and win or lose, people are going to know what I can do…Josh Thomson’s not going to have an easy fight with me. Even if he beats me people are going to say, “That was not an easy fight for Josh Thomson.”
MMAWeekly: It sounds like you’re very much focused heading into this fight.
Nam Phan: I train full-time, I’m a full-time fighter, I’m committed and I train to fight. I think I’m ready. I have nothing to sidetrack me, I’m focused and all I’m thinking about is beating Josh Thomson.
The fight game is always first a mental game. Mentally I have to believe I can fight the top fighters, if not, there’s no point in fighting. I want to always keep my mind strong, stay humble and always train to keep my focus. I don’t want to get cocky…
MMAWeekly: Kind of like what Josh is sometimes?
Nam Phan: [Laughs] Yeah…that’s a good one.
MMAWeekly: Great stuff Nam, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Nam Phan: I’d like to say to all the MMA fans, come out to the show and see Strikeforce in San Jose. It’s going to be a great card – Cung Le is fighting Jason Von Flue, I’m fighting Josh Thomson, and Bobby Southworth is fighting Vernon “Tiger” White for the [light-heavyweight] title.
I want to thank all my supporters from Orange County, all my Nor-Cal buddies that support me and are coming out to the fight…my coaches, Jeremy Williams at Apex Jiu-Jitsu and Art James at Team Punch Out…the whole Wa Du family…my sponsors, Tapout, Knoxx MMA Gear, Americas First Mortgage…MMAWeekly for giving me this interview, and the Los Amigos High School Wrestling Team, they’ve been bugging me for a shout-out, so there it is. [Laughs]