Semi-finalist and all around good guy Nam Phan joins us one last time to cover the season finale of The Ultimate Fighter. Last night’s episode found Nam in the middle of a lot of controversy and in the middle of the fight of the season with Michael Johnson. Nam sits down with us and discusses why he feels like he was alienated from his team, why the “shower prank” was blown out of proportion, why Jeff Lentz had to get his jaw wired shut, and whether or not he thinks he beat Michael Johnson. And if that’s not enough, find out what Nam thinks about his next opponent for this Saturday’s live fight on Spike.
Don’t forget to tune in this Saturday night at 9 EST on Spike to watch Nam’s UFC debut against Leonard Garcia.
VigilanteMMA: Last night’s episode focused on the differences between Team GSP and Team Koscheck. Team GSP was portrayed as one happy family whereas Team Koscheck was portrayed as a bunch of complainers, blaming Koscheck for not training them correctly. What’s your take?
Nam Phan: Yeah, for me, I thought he and the other coaches were fine. Going into the show, I really didn’t care what team I was on. I wasn’t going to depend on either coach to get me to where I needed to be. I only depend on myself. I wasn’t going to blame anyone for my losses. I didn’t really care that GSP had brought in all of those coaches and how Koscheck didn’t. I mean, if you want to train, just train. Do it yourself.
VigilanteMMA: So you weren’t jealous that GSP had brought in all of these world-class guys, like Jean Charles Skarbowsky, Mike Tyson, Freddie Roach?
Nam Phan: I mean, yeah, it’d be cool, but I have a lot of experience. You can’t really learn that much in that amount of time anyway (6 weeks). And you know what? There’s no point in complaining. It’s not going to make things any easier. You just have to make the best of it. Like I said on the show, sometimes life is going to throw you some curveballs, and it’s not always going to be in your favor, but you have to make it happen for yourself and keep hustling.
VigilanteMMA: It seems that the biggest instigator was Marc Stevens, who was caught red-handed doing an impression of Kos in the house. Was his portrayal of Koscheck at all accurate?
Nam Phan: I mean yeah. But at the same time, like I’ve been saying, as an adult, you need to take responsibility for your actions. And what another man does with his life, that’s his thing and you need to just mind your own business. If he’s texting, then he’s texting. Are you here to complain or are you here to win the Ultimate Fighter. That was my goal. It wasn’t to train with world-renowned coaches. Coach Koscheck trained me the way I train at home. And besides, when he was texting, it was when we weren’t doing anything.
VigilanteMMA: Of course, Koscheck wasn’t the only one taking heat. You were “called out” by your team for being two-faced. What was that stemming from? Were you talking behind your team’s back?
Nam Phan: No. Who was I talking about? I just think they were upset that I didn’t fall into their negative behavior. They always insult people and put people down. And I didn’t want to retaliate or join in on that type of behavior. So after awhile I just started to hang out with the Red team. I thought it was funny that when all of those guys were talking about me, saying I was two-faced, I don’t remember being there. They were doing exactly what they accused me of doing. Talking behind someone’s back.
VigilanteMMA: Yeah, I can see that. It looks like your teammates even got to your closest friend in the house Jonathon Brookins.
Nam Phan: Exactly. My team was such jerks they went out of their way to try to convince my best friend in the house that I was talking crap about him. He actually confronted me about it. I just told him, “What can I say about you? You’re a great guy.”
VigilanteMMA: Of course this whole thing escalated with the shower prank. I thought it was interesting that Aaron Wilkinson instigated the whole thing, being that you two were close in the house at one time. Did you know he instigated the shower prank or did you see it first-hand on TV?
Nam Phan: He joked around about it beforehand, but I didn’t know it went that deep. I thought he had my back more than that.
VigilanteMMA: So let’s set the record straight. I’ll give you the forum to clear the air about the whole aftermath of the shower prank.
Nam Phan: I was just showering, that’s all I was doing. I mean I’m in there taking a shower and the next thing I know there’s a camera man in the bathroom. I was just really disappointed because my whole team kind of betrayed me.
ViglanteMMA: Did all of this stuff affect you in your preparation for your fight against Michael Johnson?
Nam Phan: No. I’m sure I thought about it. Nonetheless, I would rather be me than any of those guys, in that I was still fighting.
VigilanteMMA: Let’s switch gears and talk about the first semifinal fight between Kyle Watson and Jonathon Brookins. What was your take on the fight?
Nam Phan: The fight came out exactly how I thought it would go. I knew he (Brookins) was going to use his superior wrestling to take down Watson and ground and pound him.
VigilanteMMA: It was a very impressive performance. Now let’s talk about your fight. They showed you training for your fight alone. Where were your teammates/coaches?
Nam Phan: It was Sunday. We usually don’t train on Sunday. The coaches didn’t really know. As for my teammates, something pretty big went down on Saturday night. They didn’t show it on TV, but Jeff Lentz and Spencer Paige got into it. How it started was, Spencer got really drunk and started calling out guys on the Yellow team, saying he’d knock everyone out. Eventually, Lentz said he couldn’t knock him out. So they both took turns punching each other and Spencer Paige ends up breaking Lentz’s jaw. He had to get his mouth wired shut. Anyway, the bottom line is with all of the commotion, no one went to bed until 6 am. I had to train at 8 am the next morning.
VigilanteMMA: What was your game plan going into the fight? Did you want to keep the fight standing?
Nam Phan: Yep, just sprawl and brawl.
VigilanteMMA: I thought you did a good job in stuffing some takedowns and getting up when you did get taken down.
Nam Phan: Thanks, but I have to say, Michael Johnson is strong as an ox. I didn’t realize how much bigger he was than me.
VigilanteMMA: After round 1, what was your mindset like?
Nam Phan: I just wanted to push the pace more. I knew he was getting tired. I knew I needed to try harder in stuffing his takedowns, and just go as hard as I could.
VigilanteMMA: Round 2 looked like the fight starting coming around to your favor. Were you happy with round 2?
Nam Phan: I was happy. It was tough though. It’s hard in a fight because you really don’t know how well you’re doing.
VigilanteMMA: The 3rd round was close too. He looked to get a takedown or two but you defended well and landed more punches from the bottom. With a minute left to go, what were you thinking about?
Nam Phan: I was just trying to go for a takedown. I went for one, but it didn’t work (laughs).
VigilanteMMA: Whatever the case it looked like you left everything out there. What were you thinking right after the fight? Did you think you won?
Nam Phan: I thought I had it because Michael Johnson only really got 1 takedown in the 3rd because the 1st “takedown” was a flying triangle attempt.
VigilanteMMA: Not only that, but when you were taken down, you did more damage.
Nam Phan: Both times I went down I thought I did more damage. All he did was stall, and even then I got out immediately. And in the stand up, he really didn’t even try to hit me. He was just laying on me, putting me on the cage and stalling. I felt I hit him a lot more; I connected on a lot of heavy shots, so I thought I’d have it. And when I found out he’d won, I knew it was because of the takedowns.
VigilanteMMA: Win or lose, that was the fight of the season and you should be proud of your performance. What are your general thoughts on your fight?
Nam Phan: I’m happy with my performance. Where I’m at in my career right now, I just want to do my best. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t want to look back and have the past haunt me, because as a fighter those thoughts will drive you crazy. I know that there can only be one champion, and the odds are against me, so I’m just going to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities for how many years I have left.
VigilanteMMA: Well, you’ll have another opportunity to fight this Saturday. You’ll be making your UFC debut at 145. How’s the weight cut been going?
Nam Phan: Um, not too bad. It’s certainly tight. I’m always hungry and thirsty, but it’s going fine.
VigilanteMMA: Your opponent this Saturday is Leonard Garcia. How do you see this fight going down?
Nam Phan: It’s going to be an interesting fight. I’m just going to have to out-technique him.
VigilanteMMA: Exactly. I think you can do that. He’s a good fighter but he’s not the most technical fighter. I like you in that fight.
Nam Phan: I like me in that fight too (laughs). But we’ll see. For me, it seems like he has more “heart” than he has “gas” if that makes sense. Meaning, he gets tired, but keeps swinging because he has such a big heart.
VIgilanteMMA: I also like the match-up with Garcia because he’s a well-established fighter. What do you think about that in terms of your career?
Nam Phan: I like it in that if I beat an established guy like him, it legitimizes me as a UFC fighter.
VigilanteMMA: So we have to ask you, who do you like in the finale?
Nam Phan: Oh, Jonathon Brookins, my best friend in the house.
VigilanteMMA: Lastly, we just want to thank you for being our special correspondent all season long. It’s certainly been the most enjoyable part of doing the website and I hope we can continue to cover you through you MMA career.
Nam Phan: Thanks guys. I really appreciate it. I’ve had a good time getting to know you guys and it was really fun. I support you guys and VigilanteMMA.com
Also, we want all our Nam Phan fans to follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Since Nam is a big fan of the site, he has stepped up to help us with a “Phan-tastic” giveaway (see, bad puns are NOT beneath us). Every month beginning in November we will give away a double-prize package of:
- Nam Phan t-shirt
- Nam Phan autographed photo
All you have to do to be eligible for the monthly prize package is follow VigilanteMMA on facebook and/or Twitter. Here’s the best news, we’ll even give you multiple chances to win. You will get one entry ballot for EACH of the following:
- ‘Like’ VigilanteMMA on facebook
- Follow VigilanteMMA on Twitter
- Send us an email to say hi (we’d love to hear your thoughts on the site too) at NamContest@VigilanteMMA.com
Furthermore, if you are already following us, just email and let us know. We’ll still enter you in the drawings.