The “Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang has been given a rare second chance to become a World Champion, and he plans to capitalize on it.
After all, he will not get a better shot – the bout takes place in his hometown, an entire country will be behind him, and he will be facing a familiar opponent whom he has had months to prepare for. Simply put, it is the opportunity of a lifetime for him to achieve his life’s ambition.
The only problem? He will be facing undefeated 9-0 ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash, the man who broke his four-fight winning streak in January.
The 32-year-old Myanmar national hero returns home to Yangon, Myanmar, for the title rematch on Friday, 30 June, in the main event of ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium.
“I am very, very confident about this fight,” says Myanmar’s favorite son. “I feel very well-prepared. I feel five rounds is not going to be a problem at all, and I feel I am going to be dangerous for every second of the fight. I am going to be ready for this one.”
Aung La N Sang admits he was not fully ready the last time he competed against the Russian title holder.
From the moment he accepted the contest, he had only nine days to train before flying to Indonesia and stepping into the Jakarta Convention Center to square off against the champion.
Though Aung La N Sang was competitive in the early going, Bigdash was impressive with his striking and clinch work in the opening two rounds. A well-placed head kick from the champion then turned the tides of the contest completely, but Aung La N Sang showed incredible courage and toughness to remain competitive.
However, it would prove to be in vain, as the Russian then dominated the challenger with masterfully-executed takedowns and decisive ground strikes en route to a unanimous decision victory. It would be the only match of the champion’s perfect career to go to the judges’ scorecards.
“I was still trying to get my cardio up on the week of the fight, so it was just bad preparation, and it showed in the later rounds,” admitted the Myanmar icon. The loss dropped his record to 19-10 with 1 No Contest, but he had put forth a valiant effort.
“I do not regret it. I am happy we did the first fight. We went five rounds with him, and I felt the first-hand what he had to offer, so essentially, it was good.”
Aung La N Sang has been provided with an opportunity for redemption, and he will use that first-hand experience to properly strategize against Bigdash in their rematch.
The “Burmese Python,” a well-rounded combatant who holds a purple belt in BJJ, is training primarily out of Maryland’s Crazy 88 MMA. He is supplementing that by cross-training with Team Lloyd Irvin in the metro Washington D.C. area. Irvin is the famed trainer who first started ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera on his martial arts journey.
“I have been doing my homework,” the middleweight title challenger explains. “I brought in more training partners and I brought in pro fighters from all over Maryland with similar body builds as Bigdash.”
Aside from having direct intel of the Russian’s martial arts style, Aung La N Sang also has home court advantage, as he will be competing in front of his countrymen in Yangon. The Myanmar people have passionately thrown their support behind their hero ever since he returned to the country a year ago.
Even with that overwhelming support, he believes Bigdash is the favorite heading into their main event title tilt.
“I am the underdog in this fight, because I lost to him and he has an undefeated record,” he says. “I do not think the home crowd is going to make him the underdog, but it is good to have the home crowd behind you.”
There is undoubtedly a lot at stake for Aung La N Sang on 30 June. He is presented with the task of giving the Russian his first-ever defeat, capturing the ONE Middleweight World Championship, and carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders.
The “Burmese Python” is confident of his abilities ahead of the bout, but he knows he just has to remember one simple thing: “I have to focus and think about the task at hand.”