Skip to main content

Local Kung Fu master says MMA fighters can't fight - challenges former UFC fighter

Local Kung Fu instructor claims MMA fighters can't fight - challenges former UFC fighter

Local Kung Fu instructor claims MMA fighters can't fight - challenges former UFC fighter

The article is part of a larger effort to understand what really works not by looking at MMA events, but by observing the application of martial arts outside the arena - in gyms, on the streets, at the door, etc. If you enjoyed it, check out more stories from The MMA UnderGround on:
Martial Arts on The Street
Dojo Storms
Informal Fights


On Saturday, March 21, 2019, Nam Phan accepted a challenge from a Kung Fu Master named Khai Tran. Tran was then 50, and Phan, a former UFC fighter, was 36. It took place at the Nam Phan MMA Academy in Garden Grove, California. At the request of Master Tran, the rules of the challenge were stand up only (no takedowns and no ground grappling), with two-minute rounds and one-minute rest periods.

According to Phan, Tran, a local Kung Fu instructor, came to his MMA school saying he wanted to become a professional MMA fighter - thinking he could get a professional fight, impress UFC's Dana White, become a champion, and then a millionaire…

Nam then explained that in order to become an MMA fighter, Khai would need to get some sparring in. Khai apparently misinterpreted this as a challenge, and not for what it actually was - a request for some actual MMA training. The two went back and forth and agreed to a 'sparring' match with some stipulations.

Khai claimed that gloves would slow down his movements. Nam agreed to allow the Kung Fu instructor to go bare-knuckle, while Nam would use regulation size amateur MMA gloves and wraps. In my opinion, this is a clear indication that the Kung Fu instructor had little to no sparring or actual combat training experience.

Khai also requested there be no grappling at all, even though he claimed to want to fight with 'no rules'.

Check out the videos to see how the fight went down.

Clearer view with better lighting:

And a third view:

While Mr. Tran obviously didn't win, neither was he utterly self-deluded, as is so often the case in these informal challenge fights from traditional Kung Fu masters. Tran followed the agreed to rules, fought gamely, did not look hopeless, and hopefully learned something useful from the experience.

Who is Nam Phan?

Nhat Nam Si Phan, better known as Nam Phan, is an American mixed martial artist and professional boxer. A professional in mixed martial arts since 2001, Phan has also competed for the UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, World Victory Road, and was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck. He has competed in a Japanese MMA organization called Pancrase and has won the title of featherweight class King of Pancrase in 2015. His last UFC fight was against Vaughan Lee in March of 2014.

Nam Phan's ranks:
2nd Degree Black Belt in Việt Quyền Đạo
Black Belt in Karate
Black Belt in Judo
Black Belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu [Souce: Wiki]

Talk about Nam Phan fights on The UnderGround...