Hawaiian native Tyson Nam has been known on regional circuits for being a knockout artist for quite some time.  The 29-year-old has been fighting professionally for over seven years and has compiled an impressive 12-4 record with six of his wins coming by knockout.  However, the sixth KO was by far the sweetest.

On Aug. 25, 2012, Nam fired a shot that was heard around the world, when he knocked out Bellator bantamweight champ and seventh-ranked bantamweight in the world Eduardo Dantas at Shooto Brazil 33.  Dantas came in with a knee attack and Nam countered with a right, sending the Brazilian into La-La Land on his home turf.

“It was one of the top five best things I’ve had in my life so far,” said Nam in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner.  “To go into someone’s backyard, knock somebody out in front of their family and friends, and then get hated on, it was pretty exciting.”

Dantas, who is a very well-rounded fighter and still the Bellator champ, came off that loss and knocked out friend and elder teammate Marcos Galvao at Bellator 89 last month.  If nothing else, this makes Nam’s win over Dantas look even better.

Nam (Alan Oliveira/Sherdog)

Currently on a four-fight winning streak with three knockouts and a unanimous decision, Nam’s performance was anything but a fluke.  The Hawaiian trains hard and, even more than most fighters, his whole life revolves around MMA.  He didn’t even take much of a break.

“I was back in the gym in about nine days,” said Nam. “The fight didn’t last too long, so I came out injury free.  I got back in the gym and started getting better, because I knew that big things were on the rise.”

When he’s not in the gym, Nam is “watching movies and relaxing.  We train so hard that we pretty much just need to wind down and do things that don’t really get the heart rate up too often.”

Nam currently trains at the Sports Lab with head trainer Phil Claud in Portland, Ore.  Other fighters out of that camp include UFC vet Mike Pierce, former UFC fighter Ian Loveland and current Bellator lightweight finalist Dave Jansen, so Nam’s stable of training partners runs pretty deep.

Claud entered the media spotlight last summer, along with Nam, due to a bit of controversy with the Bellator MMA promotion after Nam’s win over Dantas.

In March 2012, Bellator signed Nam as a replacement fighter for the season-six bantamweight tournament, which took place from March to August.  However, the fighter he was to replace ended up being able to fight, so Nam was sidelined and promised a spot in the season-seven tournament, set to start in September.

In June, according to an interview with Claud, Bellator cancelled the season-seven bantamweight tournament and released Nam.  It was after this release that Nam was set to fight Dantas in Brazil, in a fight Bellator allowed Dantas to take part in because it met certain contractual obligations.  However, this is where things starting getting rocky.

Following the knockout of Dantas, Bellator tried to exercise a clause in Nam’s original contract to match any offers made by other organizations, namely the UFC and WSOF, which began rolling in immediately.  At this point, Nam and Claud had written off Bellator and weren’t interested in the organization as the next step in the Hawaiian’s career.  The entire debacle ended amicably, and Bellator refrained from filing suit, but the UFC brass had lost interest at that point.

Enter World Series of Fighting.

WSOF has done a great job of bringing in world-class fighters that, for one reason or another, have washed out of the other major promotions.  In addition, the promotion has done an amazing job of snagging several up-and-coming fighters, including Rick Glenn, Justin Gaethje and Alexandre Pimentel.

So, already chomping at the bit for big-time talent, WSOF didn’t hesitate to get Nam on its second card.

“It was pretty quickly after all of the melee went down,” explained Nam. “They pretty much got right on the phone with my agent at Iridium Sports to try to work out the details as soon as possible.

“It was late August, early September.  That’s when everything went down with Bellator.  The whole shenanigans went down with the dispute.  They said right after the first World Series of Fighting, I was getting the winner of Miguel Torres versus Marlon Moraes.”

Well, at WSOF 1 on November 3, the 24-year-old Moraes beat the longtime vet Torres by a hotly contested split decision.  Torres, who has 46 pro fights under his belt, including streaks of 20 and 17 wins in a row, just couldn’t do enough to stop the youngster, and Moraes remained undefeated in fights going to a decision.

Moraes is a slightly more well-rounded fighter than Nam.  While he is susceptible to finishes, he is also perfectly capable of handing them out.  His record is 9-4, with three wins each by knockout, submission and decision.  He has been stopped twice by submission and twice by knockout.  Nam, on the other hand, has only been stopped twice, and both of those losses were over five years ago.  Since then, he has only dropped two decisions.

“I think it’s going to be a great fight,” admitted Nam. “We’re both fast and really athletic.  We both like to put on an exciting fight.  I think it’s going to be ‘Fight of the Night’ on March 23.”

And Nam’s prediction is simple.

“When the bell rings, we’re both going to meet in the center of the cage.  We’re going to be throwing a lot of punches and kicks at each other, until someone goes down.”

Nam may feel this is a standing battle, but Moraes is no stranger to submission grappling, so the Hawaiian needs to be very aware that this one could hit the mat.

“I know he’s very good in jiu-jitsu and grappling,” Nam elaborated.  “He probably started when he was about 15, so he’s been in there for a little while.  I’ve been working very hard and diligently.  A lot of my teammates have been wrestling ever since they could walk, so I’ve been really working that aspect of the game as well.”

Although he’s traditionally a striker, Nam’s confidence in his ground defense is extremely high.

Nam (R) throws a right hand (Alan Oliveira/Sherdog)

“If it hits the mat, it’s going to be a mad scramble,” explained Nam. “You know, a lot of movement and motion, and then we’ll get right back to punching and kicking.”

Nam is coming into this fight ready to make a statement.  Regardless of how the fight ends, his plans are to stay with WSOF for the near future.

“Four fights in two years, whichever comes first,” he said.  “It’ll be my home for a good while.

“It doesn’t matter who the World Series of Fighting gives me.  I feel I match up good with any bantamweight in the world.  It doesn’t matter who I get.  I’ll put on a good show.  I know the World Series of Fighting is finding some really good fighters, guys coming out of the UFC and Strikeforce.  I’m just prepared for a lot of hard work over the coming years.”

While he’s not fully aware who will be next for him in the ring, Nam definitely knows what he wants to do after the fight.

“I would like to make it back to Hawaii, but that [got] put on hold for a little while,” explained Nam. “I thought I was going to have a fight in November, but it kept getting pushed back.  So, I definitely want to make it back to see family and friends on the islands after this fight.”

Although Moraes has been impressive as of late, he will most likely not be able to handle the tremendous striking of Nam.  Nam has so much quickness and power that the youngster has a slim chance of pulling this one off, even if it goes to decision.  If it does go the distance, Nam should have far more significant strikes.

As a parting shot, Nam wants to make one thing clear.

“If you haven’t heard my name yet, make sure to tune into NBC Sports on March 23, because this is going to be a pretty exciting fight.”

Tyson Nam would like to thank his coaches and training partners at Sports Lab, his agents at Iridium Sports, especially Andrew Vecere for helping him get out of the Bellator contract, all of his family and friends in Hawaii, and his girlfriend, Melanie. Follow Nam on Twitter: @TysonNam

Top Photo: Tyson Nam (R) (Jason Meinhardt/Sherdog)

  • Chris

    Thank God Bellator finally got their claws out of Nam and let him fight where he’s appreciated. Whoever wins this fight is definitely a top 10 bantamweight, no doubt