Tyson Nam knows exactly what he's getting into.
This Saturday night (August 25, 2012), the Sports Lab fighter will be traveling outside the United States for the first time to compete against Bellator Bantamweight Champion Eduardo Dantas at Shooto Brazil 33 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Dantas is widely regarded as one of the best young bantamweight prospects in the world, so Nam is showing huge guts by not only taking this fight, but fighting "Dude" in his backyard.
Nam is a powerful young bantamweight who will enter the fight riding a three fight win streak which includes two knockouts inside the first minute so he'll definitely have a shot. He's looking to make the most of his incredible opportunity.
The Hawaiian-born fighter spoke with MMAmania.com about his upcoming fight against Dantas, the expectations of competing in Brazil and his background.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you tell me what your first feelings were when you initially found out you'd be fighting Eduardo Dantas?
Tyson Nam: Scared, excited and anxious all at the same time if you can actually imagine that. All of those feelings all at once.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I would assume that in your mind, Dantas is the most high profile opponent you've ever faced?
Tyson Name: Yes, by far. He's good all the way around. I've watched him on video and there's not too much flaws in his game.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What are your expectations about going into Brazil? Every fight in your career has taken place in the United States, both in Hawaii and on the west coast. You'll definitely be going into hostile territory this time.
Tyson Nam: Yeah, I've never fought outside the US. It's definitely gonna be an experience in itself just to travel outside the US whether alone having the biggest fight of my life as well. It's in his hometown and with his fans and I'll be expecting a lot of boos but I'm training to tune that out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is there a way to actually train yourself to tune that out considering you've never experienced an environment like that before?
Tyson Nam: I'm sure just a lot of visualization. You can never recreate the exact situation but you can always use a little bit of imagination and a lot of mental training.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You said that it was a mixture of feeling scary and excited. What I want to know is how do you prevent yourself from being intimidated by a guy like this? Eduardo Dantas is a guy that a lot of people are really high on in regards to the future of the bantamweight division. How are you focusing yourself?
Tyson Nam: We're training really hard up here and I feel like I'm in the best shape and the most prepared than for any fight that I have fought. With me, it's about going to the fight with that mindset that all I need to do now is do what I do every day in practice. All my family, my coaches, my training partners believe in me so I feel like if they believe in me, I should believe as well.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Eduardo Dantas is really long and rangey coming out of one of the best gyms in the world down there. How do you feel you stand up to him physically?
Tyson Nam: I believe we're about the same height and same length. We're both on the longer side of the 135 pound weight class and I know he trains with world-renowned fighters but I have a lot of training partners that are in the UFC or fought in the WEC and Bellator so I believe that we'll be equally prepared, it'll just be on his home turf.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned watching some film on Dantas. He's had four fights televised for Bellator so now that you've got a good feel for him, can you tell me about where you think he's best and how your skills match up to him?
Tyson Nam: He's very talented all the way around. His ground game is very good and his kickboxing is solid as well. I've heard somewhere that he feels he needs to showcase his stand-up abilities. It's definitely gonna be a fight of the night or perhaps even a fight of the year with all the fireworks we'll be throwing at each other.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I'd like to talk about you. You've fought for a while now so for the people that aren't familiar with you, what's your background like? What were you doing before you got into MMA in Hawaii?
Tyson Nam: I've probably tried it all. Ever since I was six years old, I played all the sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, surfing. I tried out for the golf team, track, everything. Before getting into MMA, I was just really athletic and everything was based on sport, sporting events, going to the park and with mixed martial arts, I had gotten bored with everything else and it just fit.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So you'd tried everything else and mixed martial arts was just something new to try? Was there some specific instances where you realized that MMA was what you really wanted to do?
Tyson Nam: Yeah, like you see it on TV and even just movies or kickboxing, you'll think "that's pretty cool," but one day, the high school that I went to, a few of my friends were into grappling and boxing. They introduced me to it, working after school, a little bit of peer pressure and a kickboxing match and after that, it was all she wrote. I love competition at its finest and there's nothing like one on one, man to man, hand to hand and it just took off from there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): A couple years ago you relocated from Hawaii to the Pacific northwest and Team Quest. You're with Sports Lab now, but can you talk about the motivation behind moving to the continental United States and training over here?
Tyson Nam: Well, it started off as relocating to follow a female but that didn't work out and it just so happens that I was right in the same location as Team Quest. Before I came to Portland, I asked my coach in Hawaii and asked about gyms in that area and he told me to go to Team Quest. I was there at Team Quest for about two years but I changed and started working at the guys at the Sports Lab and I love it. I feel like I'm getting everything I need and I want to progress in my skills and to be the best mixed martial artist that I can be.
You can follow Tyson on Twitter at @TysonNam.