Tyson Nam was brought in to lose the first time he fought in Brazil. Two years later, he wants another upset.
Nam was an 11-4 prospect from Team Quest when he was booked to fight Eduardo Dantas, the then Bellator bantamweight champion. The Nova Uniao fighter, who had dominated his past seven opponents going into that bout, was waiting for the next Bellator tournament winner to put his title on the line, so the promotion let him compete in Brazil under the Shooto banner to stay active.
It couldn’t have been worse.
Dantas, the huge favorite that night, was fighting in front of his teammates, friends and family in Rio de Janeiro. He was so excited to impress his countrymen that he threw everything he could to beat Nam fast, but it didn’t end as he expected. Nam countered a couple knees with a huge right hand, and down went "Dudu". Out cold.
"They definitely brought me there to be Eduardo’s highlight reel, and they weren’t expecting that outcome," Nam told MMAFighting.com. "My team and I went up there, and we had a really good feeling. I never had any big high level fight before, but I train with high level guys that had fought in the UFC, Bellator."
Nam scored the biggest win of his career that night in 2012, but he hasn’t won since. After three straight losses at WSOF and West Coast FC, the Hawaiian fighter is scheduled to once again compete in Brazil, as he headlines Saturday night’s XFC International 8 card in Sao Paulo against Fernando Vieira.
"I’m very excited to come back after two years," Nam said. "I had a good win last time I was in Brazil, so hopefully it’s going to happen again. Training was good, did the things that I think I need to do to stay healthy and come in a pretty good shape, with a good game plan in order for us to come out with the victory."
Vieira is 10-2 in MMA, and Nam knows what to expect at XFCi 8.
"He is a world champion in jiu-jitsu, so I couldn’t see him wanting to try anything other than that," he said. "It’s very successful for him and his career in MMA, so he’s always going to stick with it. For me, I like to punch people in the face, so I think it will be a good match-up between grappler versus striker.
"I’m really good at American wrestling, working a lot with the guys that are really good in jiu-jitsu as well, so just making sure that I know what to do in every situation if Fernando tries to take me down, or try get out of a bad situation if he gets me down to the ground."
Vieira was finished only once in MMA, a first-round TKO against TUF winner Diego Brandao in 2009, but a lot changes in five years.
"I was not able to pull that fight up over the internet. I would love to see it," Nam said. "But that fight was a long time ago and fighters do change and improve. I know he’s on a good winning streak right now, so I think that he’s doing the right things he needs to do to keep on with his winning streak as well, but I plan on putting a stop on that win streak.
"I would always like to say that if someone stands in front of me and tries to trade punches with me they’re in a world of hurt, but I’ve practiced stand-up, martial arts from the beginning of my career, so I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of things that be throws at me that I have not seen before, so that’s why I try to really work on the grappling, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, in order to keep the fight where I want it to be."
Entering a MMA bout in a three-fight losing skid can be tough, but that’s not how Nam looks at the picture.
"Fight to me is like another day in life," he said. "I wake up, I train, we spar, we fight, we grapple every single day. It isn’t a whole other extra added pressure. To me, it’s kinda excites me. I get to fly over to Sao Paulo, where I’ve never been before. It’s very exciting to me. I get to fight somebody as good as Fernando in a place I’ve never been before. I’m not being stressed about it, but I’m actually anxious and excited to test the skills against Fernando."
The last time he visited Brazil, Nam ran away from the ring after scoring a quick upset against a Bellator champion. He’s not planning to run away this time at XFCi, but wants to end the fight with a bang.
"I think I’m going to beat him with a lot of good defensive grappling and very technical striking," Nam said. "Whether the knockout comes, I think I will put on a good beating down on him on December 13."