When you hear that a fighter is in contention for a world-class championship, you wouldn’t think that they would be working a full-time job as a construction-site laborer and training four to five hours a day, nor would you expect them to be just the tender age of 21. But that’s exactly the case for Thanh Vu, a contender in the semifinals of the ONE FC bantamweight tournament.

In his last fight, Vu was scheduled to face Ryan Diaz. However, a late injury caused a change in opponent. The fun didn’t stop there, as Vu was faced with two more opponent changes right before the fight. A sudden change in opponent would throw even the most seasoned veteran off their game, but, for Vu, it didn’t matter that the opponent for his ONE FC bout had been changed so many times.

“At first I was a bit concerned, but I was confident that [ONE FC matchmaker] Matt Hume would find me someone to go up against,” Vu revealed to The MMA Corner. “I was so happy to fight over there, though. It was a great experience.”

But, did the changes have any bearing on his preparation for the fight?

Vu (L) connects with a left hand (ONE FC)

“Not at all,” he explained. “I was prepared for anything and anyone, because at the end of the day a fight is a fight.”

Vu is now set to face Kevin Belingon at ONE FC 8 on April 5 and goes into the fight on the back of two straight wins. Vu’s opponent in the semifinal of the tournament has over three times the fight experience. However, Vu isn’t worried about what Belingon has done in previous fights.

“To me, it’s just a fight, and I treat them all the same,” he admitted. “I’m not worried about who he has fought or their records or anything, I am just looking forward to getting another fight.”

For a lot of fighters his age in Australia, it can be hard enough to secure a fight on the local circuit, let alone on the world stage in front of thousands of fans. Vu revealed just how he went from obscurity to fighting in a stadium under the banner of one of Asia’s biggest MMA promotions.

“It’s all about having a good relationship with your coaches and with them knowing the right people,” Vu said with a laugh.

For so many people in their early 20s, traveling the world is often at the top of the bucket list to gain some life experience. But Vu’s world travels have been all about business, with the only pleasure coming out of getting his hand raised at the end of the fight.

Vu (ONE FC)

“It’s completely different fighting overseas,” Vu confessed. “It’s good to be fighting all over the world, but when I am in a different country, I am just focused on the fight. It’s great to visit new places and explore the world, but for me it’s all about getting inside the cage.”

In his camp for this fight, Vu hasn’t changed his outlook or done anything that he wouldn’t normally do. Taking the fight just like any other seems to be his way of ensuring that the pressure doesn’t affect his performance come fight time.

“We have just been training hard and focusing on the aspects that we need to focus on to win the fight,” he explained. “All my coaches and training partners have been great, and I am just ready to go in there.”

Belingon has been quite vocal in the lead up to the fight and has made his intentions of moving through Vu with ease quite clear. Vu, who is quite reserved in his pre-fight banter, didn’t want to get himself worked up.

“I’m not really concerned with what he says. I will just settle it in the cage.”

If Vu can walk out of Singapore with a victory, he will be one step closer to being the first Australian in a number of years to hold a major international MMA championship. Whilst that could be a life-changing experience for a fighter, and it would be tempting to throw everything away and focus solely on training, one thing will be certain, this modest 21-year-old will be right back to his laboring job as he continues the daily grind to fund his dream of fighting the best fighters all over the world.

Thanh would like to thank his sponsors, Rock Hard Supplements, MMA Factory and Plus Fitness 24/7, along with his team at M.A.D, his coaches Glenn and David and all of his training partners. Follow him on Twitter: @Thanh_man

Top Photo: Thanh Vu celebrates victory (ONE FC)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.