On this past week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, Nam Phan narrowly avoided a problem with his laundry, but by the end of the show, Phan wound up taking Spencer Paige to the cleaners.
The Garden Grove, California native, who has fought on both sides of the Pacific and battled the likes of Rob McCullough, Josh Thomson and Gecias Cavalcant scored a two-round unanimous decision over Paige on Wednesday’s episode, giving Team Koscheck its first win in the preliminary round.
Phan recently took time to speak with UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report.
The beginning of the episode this week involved you, but we never actually saw you in it, with Alex Caceres putting the bleach in your fabric softener.
Yeah, I know. What’s up with that, man?
When Michael Johnson found out, did he tell you? What happened with that?
Jonathan Brookins was the one who told me. Michael Johnson used the fabric softener, and it almost ruined his clothes, but luckily, Michael was able to keep his clothes, and they just threw away my fabric softener, because it was ruined.
So, did you ever say anything to Alex about it?
Nah. I figured that being isolated from his own teammates was a bad enough punishment already.
And oddly enough, you were the one last week, when it looked like Sevak Magakian was on the verge of doing something crazy, you were the one who got in the way. It seems like if he was going to pick someone on Team Koscheck to take a shot at, you’d be the last one. You were keeping Sevak off of him.
I came to Sevak, and a lot of young MMA guys, they’re young and inexperienced and their emotions get the better of them, so since I’m more mature, I know better. I won’t let emotions get the better of me, so I saved him from ruining his career.
You mention the maturity and the experience, and you’ve certainly been around a while, fighting in the U.S. and in Japan. Did you ever think that this was going to be your shot at getting into the UFC, that you were going to have to go through The Ultimate Fighter?
Years ago, the UFC actually asked me to fight in the UFC, but at the time, the money wasn’t there, things weren’t going well, something came up. It was more beneficial for me to go through The Ultimate Fighter to get in the UFC.
So you’d turned down the UFC in the past? Did Dana remember that when you showed up to try out?
Nah, Dana didn’t know who I was. It had been a long time. I’m a little grain of rice, I’m not going to stand out.
Well, you certainly gave a lot of people a way of knowing who you are with that fight against Spencer. The way it started, did you hear the way that Georges St. Pierre kept shouting out every time Spencer landed a shot on you?
I don’t care about that. Everyone does that. It’s exciting. I have to focus on my technique, win the fight. Don’t get your mind off track. Don’t get distracted.
Did you have an idea coming in that Spencer was going to be throwing kicks the way he was?
I didn’t know what he was going to do, but I did know that he had some good kicks and he’s a southpaw. I wasn’t too worried, because back home, I train with very good southpaw kickboxers.
So when the fight starts, and he’s throwing those kicks, and he catches you with that one leg kick, is that the hardest leg kick you’ve taken?
Eh, you punch, you lean forward, and he just takes the base out from under you. It didn’t really hurt. It’s more like you slipped. That was the highlight of the fight for Spencer, but I was very comfortable there
When he’s throwing those kicks, do you have an idea before that you’re going to be able to catch one of those kicks and use it to take him down. How much time was there between thinking, “OK, let’s catch one of those and use it to take him down,” and when it actually happens?
I don’t really think too much about that. It’s just fight, fight, fight and whatever comes across, you deal with it then.
So it just happened in the moment: you saw you could catch that particular kick and just used it right there.
I was just trying to push the pace.
When you did get him down, you had a kimura on him at the end of the round. Were you surprised that he got out of the round? Did you expect him to tap there?
But he gets out of the round, and watching the fight on TV, you find out that he’s having problems with his foot at that point. And sometime in the second round, he broke his hand or whatever it was, but did you feel the difference in how he was fighting?
I didn’t know that he was tired. I knew that there was an injury. I wanted to try to wear him out.
So then, getting the win, obviously it meant a lot to Josh and the guys on the team. When you got your hand raised, were you feeling it more for yourself at that point, or for the team after all the pressure that had been built up?
There were a lot of things. First of all, of course, myself, I fight for myself. Of course, Team Koscheck, the morale of the team had just gone straight to the bottom. We were very depressed, so that uplifted the whole team. Also, overall, I want to do well for Asian Americans. I wanted to represent us very well.
So then, I know you got into this a little bit on the Aftermath, but the end with everybody drumming on the wall…
At the moment, it seemed like a good idea. The morale of the team, we were so excited, and we were pounding on the wall in excitement. I’m not the kind of guy to do that, you know? But later, on the Aftermath, I was able to apologize to Georges St. Pierre and Spencer Paige.
You’re not the sort of person to rub it in, but Josh Koscheck definitely is. How did that work? It seems like some of the guys on the team definitely shared his personality. You’re not one of them. How did that work out for you guys?
For me and Koscheck, I got on with Koscheck great. I got to know Koscheck very well in those six weeks. I don’t think he really dislikes GSP, because GSP’s a nice guy. Josh Koscheck, in all his training, everything, he’s preparing for the fight. He wants to beat you any way he can: physically, he trains his butt off, and he likes to play mind games. He likes to get under your skin. It’s part of his mental warfare.