At his Strikeforce debut in December of 2006, California grappling standout Nam Phan fought hard, but fell short in his goal of defeating one of the promotion's top lightweights in Josh "The Punk" Thomson.

Just over a year and a half later, Phan returns to the promotion looking to take the next step in his career as he takes on Billy Evangelista in a feature bout as part of Strikeforce's HDNet broadcast this coming Friday night.

"I'm very excited to fight Billy Evangelista," stated Nam.

"I was supposed to fight him back in November, but I think he got hurt or something like that, and we weren't able to fight. But it's ready to happen this time and it should be an interesting fight."

Phan is currently riding a two-fight winning streak and will be looking to end Evangelista's undefeated ways in a bout that Nam feels could be one of the most exciting fights on Friday's card.

"I always bring a lot of pressure, always a lot of action," he said. "Win, lose, or draw I think it's going to be an exciting fight.

"Billy's a banger too, so I think there's going to be a lot of haymakers thrown in this fight."

With both fighters not being afraid to stand and trade, Nam thinks the night's equalizer could be his always-dangerous submission skills.

"I think my ground is definitely far more advanced than his, but he has good wrestling defense, making it difficult to get him down for jiu-jitsu. If I have a chance to get him down, it will definitely make the difference in the fight," he commented.

Phan is looking at this fight as an opportunity to prove to his critics that he belongs in the lightweight title discussion, especially coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time in his career prior to his current winning streak.

"Having back-to-back losses to two really great fighters (in Thomson and Gesias Calvancante) I needed to mentally recoup," stated Nam. "I had a couple of warm-up fights and now I'm back up in Strikeforce again and I think I'm mentally ready to have tough fights again.

"I'm very excited to show Strikeforce what I'm really made of."

After Friday's fight, Phan's attention will shift towards his business that will allow him in the future to focus more directly on bigger fights and make a more serious run towards title contention.

"I'm opening up my own MMA academy here in my hometown of Garden Grove, so after this fight I'm going to take a break and focus my time on my academy," he said. "Now that I have the academy, I have strong financial income, so I don't have to worry about trying to hustle fights.

"Right now I just have to wait for Strikeforce to call me, rather than try to find small fights and wonder when my next paycheck is coming in. I'll just train and get ready for the big fights now, instead of the little ones."

Hoping to put his name along side the likes of Thomson, Gilbert Melendez and the other top lightweights in Strikeforce, Nam Phan is seeking to put on a breakout performance against another rising star in Evangelista in one of Friday's most anticipated bouts.

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