There’s an early frontrunner for 2021 UFC FIGHT PASS Knockout of the Year… But not without controversy.
In LFA’s centennial show there were video packages, well-wishing LFA graduates and a Cinderella story title capture by Victor Altamirano. While all these things came together to create the perfect fight card, it was Steven Nguyen who stole the show.
Thirty seconds into the first round, Nguyen turned Jorge Juarez’s lights out with the smoothest right hand of the night. With only five days’ notice of his opponent, there was no time for film studies. That knockout was just a product of Nguyen’s crisp hands.
“That’s how I always fight, though,” Nguyen said. “No matter if I had a plan or no plan, it’s how I fight. I’m an explosive, young, violent fighter. I’m always going to go for the finish.”
The clip of Nguyen’s knockout caught fire immediately. Retweets were immediately in triple digits and even reached NFL talent. Before the night was over, the video was at 100K+ views and countless comments. The only problem was that many commenters weren’t happy.
Juarez went face first into the canvas. With no signal of the fight being waved off, Nguyen followed up with a sledgehammer of a hammer fist. The follow-up blow didn’t sit well at all.
“All I can say is I wish I didn’t land that,” Nguyen said. “As a fighter, that’s instinct. I wasn’t sure he was 100% out. I saw his body drop but I thought he might have been going into turtle position. I didn’t take any chance and by time I was already halfway down it was way too late. Thank God, though, I only hit him on the shoulder and he’s 100% fine.”
Following the fight, Nguyen and Juarez discussed the strike and all was smoothed over immediately. Like Nguyen, Juarez understands that it’s nobody’s favorite part of the sport, but it’s a part of MMA.
“My opponent has done that to me before,” Nguyen said. “This happens all the time in MMA.”
Over a week since the follow-up blow heard ‘round the world, comments continue to pile up, and where most fighters may let it affect them, Nguyen had a KO win that went viral, leads the pack for Knockout of the Year, and he doesn’t have a scratch on him. He assures that he’s ready for his next trip to the cage without a second of thought for anyone else’s opinion.
“If my coach would have yelled at me and said that, it would have been a different story,” Nguyen said. “If my ma called me and told me that or if one of my close friends would have said that, I would have been like, ‘Oh man.’ I know how this game works. I was born for this, so let them keep talking.”
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