Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

Phan fighting to break Asian stereotypesNam Phan admits he's a bit of a nerd, but he wasn't about to follow the traditional path that many Asians follow when they come to the U.S. Phan hated school, but wasn't a bad kid. That's when he turned to martial arts.

"You have to understand that where I grew up, living like a tough guy was attractive at the time," Phan told Bernard Fernandez of the Philadelphia Daily News. "Girls like bad boys, right? But I guess that's why I never got girls because I was the nerdy one. My brothers were much older than me and while they were going clubbing, I was always home alone. They never knew that while they were out, they stressed my parents out. I said right then, 'I am not going to do that, I am just going to do martial arts.' "

Phan's parents arrived in the U.S. in 1975 settling in Orange County. The 28-year-old says that California county is a little rougher than what you've see on television.

"I want to specify the northern part of Orange County, not the cushy one you see with all the surfers and girls in bikinis on MTV," Phan said. "They got [to America] and thought they were going to be safe and then my dad gets shot standing outside of a jewelry store and both of my brothers, Tan [34] and Khanh [32] have been victims of drive-by shootings . . . I've always thought that if there were more role models, there would be less crime."

By turning to athletics, Phan bucked what he says has become the traditional Asian path in the U.S.

"Look, man, it's a fact that people look at Asians in this country and they know we can excel as a lawyer or a doctor - but physically we aren't that gifted," Phan said in a phone interview Monday. "There are very few top Asian athletes, singers and actors, but mainly because there is so much pressure from family to be engineers and doctors."

Phan has a chance to jump to the next level at featherweight when he faces former 145-pound champ Mike Brown this weekend at UFC 133. Phan is the first Vietnamese-American to fight under the UFC banner.

You can watch UFC 133 right here on Yahoo! Sports

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