The Ultimate Fighter’s Nam Phan

Ma Du Academy does not have an MMA fight team. He doesn’t want a fight team because “I don’t want anyone to think they’re more special than anyone else. They train together and learn together. We’re a family.” However, Phan does have students who compete in both amateur and professional tournaments individually. Most recently on October 24, 2010, every one of his students who competed placed either first, second or third in the tournament.

Phan had an opportunity to build his academy right in the heart of Little Saigon on Bolsa, but he decided not to. “I didn’t want to do that because I want it to be more diverse and I have students of all types.” One thing he will not tolerate is rivalry. He tells his students, “No one is special. The only one who is special is me, because there needs to be a leader or there will be chaos. Everyone works together to keep the gym. I had an egotistical guy in here saying once, ‘I pay good money to be here, etc.’ I kicked him out.” That is a great thing he’s teaching his students. There are so many other good qualities that are learned and formed in the process of training MMA.

Signed jersey from the cast of TUF season 12

Episode 5 on season 12 of the “The Ultimate Fighter” was Phan’s episode. It was the highest rated episode of that season with 1.9 million viewers. Of course, he trained hard, considering it was his episode, but he tells me, “I train hard no matter what. The hugest pressure I had was being the only Asian-American in the house on international television. I represented Asians. Even if I lost, I want people to know that I’m still a gentleman,” and he really is a gentleman. In his interview with USA Today, he tells his fans that “[MMA] can be like boxing, a gentleman’s sport. We don’t always have to act like brute animals in mixed martial arts. I loved that. One of the things I love most about watching MMA is how both guys seem to brutally fight each other giving it their all, but in the end, there’s a handshake, a hug, a kiss on the head—there’s this mutual respect.” In MMA, he most highly respects Georges St-Pierre and Cain Velasquez because they’re both nice guys and show pride in their own cultures—just like Phan and his pride of his own culture.

MANY have since commented on Phan’s “good-guy” image on the show—it’s not just an image he’s putting on for the show. He really is a good guy and I, personally, think that a “good guy” is exactly what it takes to win a competition like TUF. Another fighter in the house, Alex Caceres, had replaced Phan’s fabric softener with bleach. It was discovered when another fighter, Michael Johnson, had used Phan’s fabric softener and Caceres had told him what he did laughing. Phan was informed, the fabric softener was thrown out and Phan still kept his composure as a gentleman. I think highly of that because I would’ve kicked Caceres’s butt!

I, personally, admire MMA more than any other sport, because although it’s a combative sport—there’s a mutual respect, and always after a fight, whether won by submission or TKO, the opponents always help each other up and hug showing each other a sign of respect. It may seem like a brutal sport, but there’s so much more to it. Nam Phan is right in the middle of this quickly rising phenomenon and doing a great job representing Vietnamese people and being a role model for Vietnamese kids as well.

My photo op with Nam.

Name: Nam Phan
Record: 16-7-0 (Wins-Loss-Draw)
Wins: 7 (T)KOs (43.75%)
5 Submissions (31.25%)
4 Decisions (25%)
Losses: 3 (T)KOs (42.86%)
4 Decisions (57.14%)
Association: Ma Du Academy
Height: 5’6” (168 cm)
Weight: 155 lbs (71 kg)
Birth date: March 13, 1983
City: Garden Grove, CA
Country: United States

***All photos are private. No photo may be copied and/or reproduced without the permission of Kimberly Truong or Nam Phan. Contacts: Kimberly Truong-, Nam Phan-***

You may also like...

16 Responses

  1. Brian Luong says:

    This is such a great article! Thanks Kimberly!!!

    GO NAM!!!!!!!!!!!! You make us so proud!

  2. Pham Tuan says:

    Nice article….Nam says there are no Viet astronauts…

    the first Asian in space was Viet.

  3. Lac Su says:

    I would enroll in the Ma Du Academy if I lived a bit closer. Jiu Jitsu is awesome!

  4. Jules says:

    Great article Kim! Nam is da MAN!

  5. Son Dam says:

    Awesome article! I hope he wins the whole thing on this seasons The Ultimate Fighter!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good fighter. Good writer. Go Vietnam!

  7. andrew says:

    haha turns out im in the youth bjj picture

  8. Robert says:

    What coach said about supporters and fans are really true. I really appreciate the accessibility that he is willing to offer for the community as well.

  9. Jason says:

    good article. Nam Phan is an inspiration.

  10. kieu my duyen says:

    I met him, he is very nice, very polite, I am proud of him, I thought that I have to interview for my talk show on radio someday.
    Good luck to him.
    Kieu My Duyen

  11. Hoang-Chau Nguyen says:

    Awesome job on the article! Very interesting insight into MMA that I didn’t know before, really enjoyed this.

  12. Dung says:

    Kimberly Truong,

    First of all, Cung Le was on the MMA radar before Nam Phan, he even got some roles in American movies (which is a shame, he should have put his focus into fighting…).

    As for your comment about “no Vietnamese astronaut”, Pham Tuan was the first Vietnamese AND first Asian cosmonaut in space…
    The only reason why you didn’t know about him is because he was a North Vietnamese pilot… Sorry to pop your bubble.

    There’s no doubt Nam Phan is a role model for the young Vietnamese community, but please do some research before you write your opinions on the internet.

    • Dung– that was Nam Phan’s comment– not my own. I was simply reporting it. Yes, I did know about Cung Le and the first Vietnamese astronaut. Also, beyond casual fans, in the MMA circle, Phan gained notoriety in 2003 after his fight with Razor Rob, Cung Le didn’t even debut until 2006!

  13. jess busto says:

    Very nice article kimberly, Nam is a good mma fighter and good at jiu jitsu but did you know he was an accomplished high school wrestler too. As one of his wrestling coaches you could see good things were going to happen with him in mma. Just would like to see him use a little more of his wrestling skills in his fights they’re there.

Leave a Reply