It was a golden night of martial arts action this past Friday, 23 February, as ONE Championship returned to the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar for its latest spectacle, ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD.
The evening was accentuated by the crowning of a new light heavyweight world champion, as well as the rise of many prominent stars, all of whom are gaining traction in their own respective quests for gold.
Here are the four marquee highlights from another spectacular night in Yangon.
#1 Aung La N Sang’s Epic Knockout
Reigning ONE Middleweight World Champion Aung La N Sang captured a second piece of gold on his most recent quest.
“The Burmese Python” awed the hometown crowd, and countless others around the world, when he blasted Brazil’s Alexandre “Bebezao” Machado with an unstoppable head kick. Despite partially blocking the strike, the kick was so powerful that it crumpled the Brazilian against the cage fence.
A few follow-up punches later, and referee Olivier Coste was forced to stop the bout, and Aung La N Sang was awarded with the ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship.
In victory, Aung La N Sang set a new record for the fastest knockout and stoppage finish in ONE Championship light heavyweight history. Also, the Myanmar sports icon become the second-ever dual ONE World Champion, only behind Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
#2 Phoe Thaw’s Spectacular Kick
That was not the only knockout kick from a Myanmar hero on the night.
Yangon’s own Phoe “Bushido” Thaw tested himself for the first time against international competition, and the unbeaten warrior passed with flying colors. In his bout with Cambodia’s Sor Sey, he dictated the action, and felled his adversary with a stunning push kick to the face.
Just witnessing Phoe Thaw elevate his lanky frame to deliver a push kick 165cm high in the air and knock out his opponent was a sight to behold. “Bushido” also got the victory quickly, at the 1:53 mark of the first round.
Already a massive star in Myanmar, his popularity will only skyrocket from here.
#3 Timofey Nastyukhin’s Overpowering Offense
The Russian has traditionally been an aggressor, and though he still applied forward pressure, he had a more methodical approach to his attack. He was patient, only utilizing his trademark explosiveness whenever Khan left himself open.
That allowed him to be more successful with his strikes, as he connected with heavy overhand rights several times throughout the bout, and even a flying knee. Despite taking a stiff uppercut in the second round, the Russian never seemed too threatened.
By getting the unanimous decision win, Nastyukhin terminates Khan’s dazzling six-bout win streak, and now has a clearer path to the ONE Lightweight World Title. However, in defeat, the Singaporean lion proved his toughness, and displayed a warrior spirit that is necessary to possess when chasing a world championship.
#4 Li Kai Wen’s Ongoing Evolution
“The Underdog” Li Kai Wen was disqualified in his last match with Ahmed Mujtaba after regretfully hitting the Pakistani with some ill-placed punches in November. But on Friday, he erased the stain of that performance with a dynamic showing in Yangon.
The Chinese featherweight, who honed his craft last year on a California martial arts excursion, showcased his enhanced skill set with a dominant effort against the Philippines’ Roel “Akiyama” Rosauro.
From the opening bell, Li relentlessly stalked the Filipino. He constantly rocked Rosauro, chased him around the cage, beautifully defended his strikes, and earned his first-career submission victory via guillotine choke.
Li appeared invincible. And, by winning in 43 seconds, he earned the third-fastest submission finish in ONE featherweight history.