Nam Phan reached a high level on limited training options, but after he lost a one-sided decision to Jim Hettes at UFC 141 in December, he knew he had to change.
“I just did the best I could with what I had,” Phan told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Jordan Breen Show.” “I tried to buy what I could with a dollar, you know? But I think the Jimmy Hettes fight was a very good fight for me, an eye-opening fight for me. … I can’t go as far as I want just doing what I’d been doing. I just tried to pick it up with high-level guys.”
Phan runs his own gym in Garden Grove, Calif. He explained that while he had been boxing with high-level boxers and occasionally traveling to train with jiu-jitsu black belts, most of his training was casual. That’s why he turned to Team Alpha Male, a California-based squad led by Urijah Faber and fighters such as Joseph Benavidez and Chad Mendes.
“These are super high-level guys,” said Phan, who helped the team with throwing and defending body shots but acknowledged that he was more of a student in the training sessions. “I did my best to give them whatever I can. I don’t got much. These guys have a lot more to show me than I have to show them.”
In particular, Faber and company have pushed Phan through a rigorous strength and conditioning regimen.
“Those guys at Alpha Male, those guys are nuts,” Phan said. “Those guys are frickin’ insane.”
Phan will put his preparation on the line Aug. 4 when he fights Cole Miller at UFC on Fox 4. He actually ran into Miller recently at the UFC fighter summit in Las Vegas and came away stunned by his size.
“It says he’s 6-1, but when we had the UFC summit … I asked him at the end of the summit, ‘Hey, Cole, let’s take a picture for Twitter,’” Phan said. “And dude, he seemed taller than 6-1. I was like, ‘Holy smokes, this guy’s enormous. This guy’s a giant.’”
It’s an important fight with both men coming off losses. Phan has dropped three of four in the UFC, but after outpointing Leonard Garcia last October and surviving a tough training camp, he has a good mindset heading into the matchup.
“I don’t feel desperate,” Phan said. “When I fought Leonard Garcia for the second time, I really felt that was a scary one. I felt like if I didn’t win that fight, I was going to get cut. Every fight’s important to me, but I don’t feel that I have that pressure like I did that time. That one was very bad for my mind. It was very stressful and nerve-wracking. This one, I feel much better.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 4:40).