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Dat Nguyen - The Vietnamese-American Combat Sports Legend With Plenty Left In The Tank And A Propensity To Play Spoiler

March 16, 2023

By Curran Bhatia

If you are a combat sports fan - you need to watch Dat Nguyen compete on Friday, April 21st headlining BKFC 38 on FITE at 9pm ET (free prelims at 8pm ET). Here are five reasons why you can't miss the living legend that goes by "Dat Be Dat" in action on FITE:


With so many newcomers, influencers, and personalities competing in combat sports - it can be refreshing to watch someone who has been working their craft since childhood. With combat sports pumping through his veins - Dat was only eight years old when his family decided to leave Vietnam in pursuit of a better life. Growing up in Maui, Hawaii, Dat fell in love with combat, and had success too - winning the Junior Olympic Championship in just eighth grade, plus a Men's State Championship and the Hawaii Golden Gloves - Impressive accomplishments for the young future star. As Dat progressed, one thing was clear, he would excel in the world of combat, and he spent time in global competitions as an Olympic hopeful. Dat proudly was the first Vietnamese-American to win a silver medal at National Golden Gloves and a bronze at the 2003 US Championships for good measure. This led to Dat turning pro in boxing nearly two decades ago.

The name Dat Nguyen is synonymous with combat and competition. No matter what - you cannot make up for experience in the ring, and Dat has it. This is not someone trying to grab a paycheck - this is a man competing at the highest level in what he was born to do - fight.


Boxing was certainly Dat Nguyen's first love. Turning pro in 2004 and working his record up to 20-3, seven of those wins coming by knockout. Dat is certainly no stranger to playing spoiler - in 2017, Dat took on the highly touted Miguel Flores, who was undefeated at the time (22-0). Flores was the younger, fresher man, and by all accounts, Flores was supposed to win this fight. Enter Dat Nguyen, whose experience edge and heart allowed him to play spoiler in an exciting matchup for as long as it lasted. In round six, Nguyen knocked down the younger Flores with a tremendous left hook and right-hand combination. As Flores got back up, Nguyen stepped on the gas, swarming the overmatched Flores and allowing Nguyan to get the outstanding TKO 6 stoppage win - and sending shockwaves through the world of combat sports.

When commenting on the victory, Nguyen said,


"Today was my day to win. I've been here 13 years as a professional, and I finally got my shot at the top. I'm thankful to everyone who believed in me."

You would think support and a tremendous upset win would skyrocket Nguyen to more opportunities in boxing, but as Dat points out,


"I guessed they realized I was too dangerous. They never called back."

It's an unfortunate reality of the current state of professional boxing. Dat Nguyen essentially proved that he was too dangerous. No promoter wanted to risk putting their top prospect or contender into the ring with an experienced lion like Nguyen. For a while, Dat thought about leaving the sport altogether. In Dat's own words,


"At one point, I said screw boxing. I'm gonna go on and do other things in life. Boxing has basically taken half of my life. I dedicated half of my life to the sport of boxing to be a world champion."

The great ones in any field know how to pivot, and this is what Dat Ngyuen had to do. Enter BKFC - Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. In an organization like BKFC, the best fighters could not avoid Nguyen, and not surprisingly, Dat shined. Dat racked up wins in his first three BKFC bouts, including impressive wins over Travis Thompson, Abdiel Velazuez, and Johnny Bedford.

The next step is Dat Nguyen's journey comes on Friday, April 21 at BKFC 38 live from Delray Beach. The event will be streamed on FITE at 9pm ET (free prelims at 8pm ET). This event can be ordered on FITE via PPV or with the monthly FITE+ subscription, only $7.99/month or $69.99/year.


As they say, life is about timing. The same is true for combat sports. It's been nearly 16 months since combat sports observers have been able to watch the legend Dat Nguyen compete. And while that may seem like a long time, for a fighter with Dat's vast experience and rounds under his belt, this could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Much needed rest and refocusing.

In Dat's own words,


"I had to focus on my family and getting everything together. Once that was taken care of, I could focus on training myself and becoming the best fighter I can be. The timing had to be right."

The timing could not be better for the 40-year-old veteran. With a recharged mind and body, it's now, once again, Nguyen's time to re-introduce himself to the combat sports world.


"A lot of the newer fans haven't seen me fight, but I'm always getting asked when I'm fighting again. I'm so happy that I have good news for them," says Dat.

And certainly, with Dat's will, toughness, and showmanship, those newer fans will be keeping an eye on Nguyen's career for years to come.

Another aspect of timing can be the moves you make as a fighter and who you align yourself with. That includes your circle and the people around you. Nguyen has trained with the world-renowned James "Buddy" McGirt. McGirt, who was a legendary fighter in his own right, has trained several world champions and future hall of farmers.

When asked about the partnership, Dat spoke about McGirt's poise,


"He's very calm, and when he's calm, I'm relaxed. He just has so much experience. I do whatever Buddy says to do. Buddy doesn't really take the credit for all the champions he's produced. He's very humble and doesn't talk about a lot of his other fighters. I'm just happy to be part of his stable of fighters."


A good fight takes two. Two men across the ring from one another, ready to engage in combat. It has been well documented that when Dat Nguyen has a tough challenge in front of him, he rises to the occasion. That will almost certainly be the case at BKFC 38 on April 21st on FITE.

Enter former Bellator Featherweight World Champion. The 38-year-old Straus, represents Cincinnati, Ohio, and worked his MMA record up to 26 big wins with ten defeats. Straus competed at Bellator, one of MMA's top promotional outlets, for many years and earned the crowning achievement of becoming Featherweight World Champion.

Dat Nguyen isn't the only one with an impressive combat sports history. Daniel Straus dominated as a young wrestler. Straus competed in a Senior Nationals wrestling tournament in high school, and won it. Straus was considered one of the best Ohio wrestlers of the decade during 2001-2010.

The impressive wrestling background propelled Straus into the world of mixed martial arts, and in 2010, Straus made his Bellator debut - winning by unanimous decision against the overmatched Chad Hinton.

Through Straus' Bellator reign, he won, lost, and reclaimed the Featherweight World Championship. That grit and determination will certainly be part of Straus' toolkit when he takes on Dat Nguyen on April 21st..

When Daniel Straus first heard about Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, he had his doubts. But as he learned more, Straus says he was excited at joining,


"As time went on, the perception and the reality isn't just these guys walking off the street. There are high-level fighters, guys who know what they are doing. We are taking the gloves off and throwing. It's something that I like"

For Straus, it's not just about putting in the work, it's about pushing yourself every day you train. Straus says,


"Work hard. You can't find who you are with just the easiest work. The softest padding. You will never find out who you are. I know guys who have been dogs in the gym, you put them under the lights, and you don't see that same person."

For Daniel, the journey wasn't always easy,


"I had to find myself the hard way. I had to get punched in the face numerous times. I had to get kicked in the face numerous times."

That experience built up toughness and grit, and that led to having confidence when competing at the highest level,


"Not every day is going to be your day, and not every day is going to be their day."

Signing with BKFC a few months back, Straus is eager to shine and impress in his BKFC debut. Everyone wants to impress their first time out, and certainly, Straus will be looking to shock the world by defeating the living legend in Dat "Dat Be Dat" Nguyen.


If you weren't already invested in watching Dat Nguyen vs. Daniel Straus - there is a full 11-fight card for you to enjoy on Friday, April 21st on BKFC 38. The event will be streamed on FITE at 9pm ET with free prelims at 8pm ET.

There's no better way to start your St Patrick's day weekend than with some Bare Knuckle fighting. In the co-main event, American Jake Bostwick, who goes by the nickname, "Brtual," will take on Isaac "The Honey Badger" Doolittle in an exciting Middleweight Co-Headline Bout.

There are exciting matchups all the way down the line on this stacked event. But it all leads up to the most certainly explosive main event showdown between Dat Nguyen vs. Daniel Straus.

Dat's position is simple,


"I'm the best of the best in Bare Knuckle." To prove that, he'll have to put on a career performance against the hungry Straus. Daniel is ready and game to take on the challenge. In Straus' own words, "I'm not a person that shies away from an opponent - no matter what they've done in their career."


"Anybody I can get a contract for, I feel like I can beat. I've been in plenty of dog fights, plenty of wars; this is no different," says the ready Straus.

Standing in his way is the living legend. And if there was a fitting summary for Dat Nguyen, it would be, "allow me to reintroduce myself." "Dat Be Dat" will be reintroducing himself to the combat sports world on April 21st, and in Nguyen's own words, "March 17, make sure you tune in. It will be fireworks."

It all goes down Friday, April 21st at BKFC 38 live from Delray Beach. The event will be streamed on FITE at 9pm ET (free prelims at 8pm ET). This event can be ordered on FITE via PPV or with the monthly FITE+ subscription, only $7.99/month or $69.99/year.

You don't want to miss this.

Curran Bhatia


Curran Bhatia is a 4-time Emmy® nominee at HBO Sports. With nearly a decade of experience at HBO, Curran produced/directed long-form documentaries (including the Emmy award-winning series "24/7"), and 250+ live events. Since HBO, Curran has stepped in front of the camera as On-Air Talent, Host, Play-By-Play Announcer, Analyst, Essayist, and Interviewer on NBC Sports, ESPN, FOX Sports, DAZN, FITE, and more. Curran hosts Ask The Experts podcast. Follow Curran on all social channels: @CurranBhatia