Myrtle Beach (Myrtlebeachonline, July 1,2017): Andy Nguyen likens being punched in the face to drinking a cup of coffee.
“It’s like my espresso shot, it wakes me up,” she said. “When I get punched I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m in a fight.’ I don’t mind it.
“But it’s not for everybody.”
Despite her willingness to take a punch, the nearly eight-year resident of Myrtle Beach much prefers administering punishment and has been doing quite a bit of it in her three years as a professional mixed martial arts fighter.
Nguyen is the King of the Cage organization’s reigning women’s atomweight champion (105 pounds).
She’s 5-3 as a pro with three consecutive victories, including two title defenses, and has three wins by technical knockout, one by submission and one by decision.
Her wins have come around the world, including in Trinidad and Japan.
Nguyen, 35, is 5-foot-4 and got into the game late, at the age of 27.
She was born and lived in Los Angeles until her mother moved to Greenville when Nguyen was 13 and opened a nail salon. Nguyen owned her own Greenville salon before selling it and moving to Myrtle Beach late in 2009 to bring her son – Sebastian Miller, now 14 – closer to his father, who had previously moved to Myrtle Beach for work.
“I wanted to move to Florida, but at that age he needed to be more around his dad,” Nguyen said.
Her first live exposure to MMA came at the first MMA event held in Myrtle Beach in January 2010 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center shortly after MMA fights became legal in South Carolina and shortly after she moved to Myrtle Beach. She was given a ticket by the father of her son.
“I didn’t really want to go but it was a free ticket,” Nguyen said. “I didn’t pay attention to the guy fights until they called out these females. I was just drinking and mingling. Two girls came out at 115 pounds and it was like a calling. I got really excited.
“That’s when I ran over to my son’s father and his fiancée and was like, ‘I’ve got to do this. Oh my God; I’ve got to do this.’ ”
Nguyen immediately joined a gym and won an amateur fight within three months. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said.
Her trainer in Myrtle Beach, Tomar ‘T-Bo’ Washington, 38, who is 9-4-1 as a light heavyweight and heavyweight pro, recalls the first time he met Nguyen at the Fitness Edge MMA gym in Conway, where she now regularly trains.
“It was funny because she was like, ‘I want to show you what I’ve got.’ She was so flamboyant wanting to show it,” Washington said. “I was like, ‘Calm down little Tiger, let it come.’ She wanted to get all the fights she could. I told her she needed to practice and train first.
Nguyen worked as a nail technician and liquor promoter while training part-time and fighting as an amateur, including at least a couple times in Myrtle Beach, then turned pro in August 2015 and has since been training 30 hours per week.
“It was a hobby and it was fun, then I decided I wanted to turn pro before I died, and now I’m stuck. Now I’m having way too much fun,” Nguyen said.
She had no martial arts experience before 2010, yet had more than 30 amateur fights thereafter in either boxing, kick boxing, Muay Thai or MMA, and she has also learned the Jiu-Jitsu discipline.