Aung La N Sang Has High Expectations For Myanmar's New Martial Arts Stars
Two-division ONE World Champion Aung La N Sang has competed on every single ONE Championship event in Myanmar for the past two and a half years.
That will change on Friday, 8 March at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR, however.
“The Burmese Python” has been tapped to defend his middleweight crown against Ken Hasegawa in the co-main event of ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan later this month, so that prevented him from battling on this week’s show in Yangon.
Although he won’t be featured on the 14-bout card this Friday, Aung La N Sang will still be at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium to cheer his compatriots to victory.
“I’ll be there,” the 33-year-old Myanmar sports icon says. “It is weird that I won’t be fighting, but my focus is on 31 March, so it doesn’t bother me. It’s work, and it’s going to get done.”
Aung La N Sang has some particular interest in ONE: REIGN OF VALOR.
He will be cornering one of his longtime students, “The Dragon Leg” Tial Thang, who makes his professional mixed martial arts debut against Cambodia’s Rin Saroth in a 68-kilogram catch weight bout.
Tial Thang, a four-time Chin State Wrestling Champion, has learned from his mentor for years. He even followed “The Burmese Python” to Hard Knocks 365 in Florida, USA to continue training with the superstar.
On Friday, the student will show what he has learned from his teacher, and Aung La N Sang could not be any happier about it.
“I’m very excited for his debut,” the ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion says.
“I’m very thankful, and it’s a dream come true for him. It’s a great story for me as well, to have somebody be able to make a living competing and training. It makes me really happy that he’s fighting in ONE Championship.
“The main thing is that he’s not hype. He’s going to go out there, he’s going to grind, he’s going to go fight, and he’s going to do big things.”
As much as Aung La N Sang loves talking about Tial Thang’s immense potential, he does not want to build the expectations too high for his star pupil just yet.
“The Burmese Python” would rather have his 25-year-old protege concentrate on the task at hand and make a loud statement through his performance.
“I expect him to do great things,” the Myanmar sports icon states.
“I know he’s going to keep working hard and he’s going to keep improving. This is where he needs to be. This is where he should be, but you’ll see.
“He’s going to go out there, he’s going to fight good, and he’s going to beat his opponent because he has a better skill set. He’s better trained, he has better training partners, and he has better trainers.”
In addition to Tial Thang’s debut, Aung La N Sang is also looking forward to the other Myanmar athletes competing on the card.
Phoe “Bushido” Thaw will take on Yohan “The Ice Man” Mulia Legowo in the night’s co-main event, and Bozhena “Toto” Antoniyar meets Audreylaura “Ice Comet” Boniface in a women’s atomweight contest on the prelims.
The local mixed martial arts scene is looking healthier than ever right now, and much of that has to do with Aung La N Sang and his tremendous success.
However, he wants to see other athletes from his homeland perform well because that will help the sport grow to new heights.
“A lot of people in Myanmar think I’m [an overnight success]. But if you think about it, I started fighting in Myanmar in 2016, which means I had been fighting professionally for 11 years, so it’s not overnight,” he explains.
“For these guys like Phoe Thaw, who is older than me, he’s only been fighting for two years. You’ve got to pay your dues. For me, it excites me that mixed martial arts has become so popular.”
Every time “The Burmese Python” competed and claimed victory inside the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, he saw the joy it brought his countrymen.
He believes all three of the local athletes featured on ONE: REIGN OF VALOR this Friday will experience a similar sensation if they get their hand raised in the center of the cage.
“When I compete and when I win, the happiness and joy it brings to Myanmar is amazing. I can’t describe it in words,” Aung La N Sang says.
“For me to be able to win and bring happiness to the people in Myanmar is amazing. When Phoe Thaw, Tial Tang, and Bozhena Antoniyar win, it’s going to be the same thing, and it makes me happy.”