Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang is on a mission to reclaim the ONE Middleweight World Championship.
The Myanmar superstar will continue to state his case for a title shot in a pivotal middleweight trilogy bout against former ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash.
The pair are one apiece in their epic rivalry that dates back to 2017, so fans can expect them to throw everything at each other when they square off inside the Circle one more time.
In this exclusive interview, “The Burmese Python” details where he has improved his game the most and explains why he expects the third bout to be the best of the series.
ONE Championship: In your last visit to the ONE Circle, you took on Leandro Ataides at ONE: BATTLEGROUND. What were you looking to showcase most in that matchup?
Aung La N Sang: I’m here to stay. I can deal with adversity and keep going. And I’m still just as hungry as I was.
ONE: What was the most important takeaway for you from that bout after losing your World Titles?
ALNS: Leading up to the fight, I had some issues. I had to really pray. By the time I fought, I was mentally, physically, and spiritually there. For me, that’s important. If I’m there, I know I’m a problem for anybody. And that fight shows it.
ONE: Over these past six months, where do you feel you’ve improved the most?
ALNS: I would say my wrestling. My wrestling has gotten better. I’ve become a little bit more athletic, I have better body awareness, and my striking is going to be better. I’m going to have a little more power than in my previous fight.
ONE: You spoke about how you were spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally ready for your last match. How are you feeling heading into this one?
ALNS: Great. It’s been a great camp. A little long, but we did all the homework. We did everything right, so I’m excited to put on a show. My pain threshold is very high, and I’m just ready for war.
ONE: Bigdash most recently won against Fan Rong. Have you seen that fight? And what are your thoughts on his performance?
ALNS: It was a great fight, back and forth. But Vitaly is the cleaner and more skilled fighter, in my opinion. He had a better overall game. He put on a great show. Vitaly is still there. He’s a dangerous fighter. He’s got submissions, and he’s got striking. I’m very excited he called me out. So we’re going to do a trilogy match.
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ONE: This match has been scheduled then canceled a couple of times over the years. Are you concerned about that happening this time?
ALNS: No, I’m not because there are a lot of middleweight fights on that card. Something might happen and, you know, I might end up fighting David Branch, or I might end up fighting Reinier De Ridder or Kiamrian Abbasov. So I’m not worried at all. I’m game for anybody.
ONE: What is it like fighting someone you’re so familiar with, as opposed to fighting someone that you’ve never competed against?
ALNS: Since our first meeting five years ago, I don’t think we’re the same fighters anymore. You go into a fight working on all your skill sets, and you game plan the best for the guy you’re going to fight.
I approached this as a brand new fight. It’s not like we fought a few months ago. It’s been five years. But we did go ten rounds, so I know what his strong suit is. I know what his skill set is. But he’s still going to develop as a fighter, and I’m still going to develop as a fighter. You’re going to see a better version, a better trilogy match, than what you saw in the first two showings.
ONE: It has been a while since you guys have faced each other. Where do you think he’s improved the most from that first fight to now?
ALNS: He’s always well-rounded. I’m sure everything is a little bit sharper and a little bit cleaner, and a little stronger. His submission game is good. His striking is good. He’s a great opponent. I know in the past few years he’s been training to get better at all aspects. So the fans are in for a treat.
ONE: You and Bigdash both have one win each, how important is it for you to complete the trilogy and come out on the winning side of it?
ALNS: Every fight is very important. Every win is very important. This fight is very important. It’s very, very important to me. I want to put a stamp on this trilogy match, and I want him to never, never, never, never, ever want to fight me again.
ONE: What do you think will be different this time around?
ALNS: I’ve gotten better, I would say. And for sure, he’s improved as well. If you liked the last two fights, this one’s going to be better. We’re both more mature and better mixed martial artists.
ONE: How are you expecting the fight to play out?
ALNS: I’m expecting a finish. I always fight for the finish. Unfortunately, in the last two meetings (with Bigdash), we weren’t able to get a finish. But, for me, it’s kill or be killed.
ONE: Is the new US$50,000 bonuses something that excites you? What are your feelings about the bonuses?
ALNS: No, I hate US$50,000 in my bank account [laughs]. Of course, who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want an extra US$50,000? But, yeah, we’ll see. It’s not what motivates me. What motivates me is to finish him and for him to never want to fight me again.
ONE: If you win this bout and the series, who do you want next? Who is on Aung La N Sang’s list in his journey to a title shot?
ALNS: It doesn’t matter who’s next. I just want to keep competing and keep getting better. I want the belt back eventually, but it’s up to ONE. I’m not shaving until I get my belt back, and my wife’s getting pretty tired of my beard [laughs].