Just a few months after losing his second ONE World Title, Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang is ready to kick-start his journey back to the gold.
The comeback trail begins at ONE: BATTLEGROUND, a closed-door event that broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, 30 July.
“It’s a make-or-break battle for me,” the former two-division ONE World Champion admits.
“But I know the work that I’ve been putting in, and I’m confident in my team. They’ve trained me good, and I’m very confident that I’ll come out on top in this bout.”
The past several months have been heartbreaking for Aung La N Sang.
Last October, Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder submitted him via rear-naked choke in three-and-a-half minutes to win the ONE Middleweight World Championship. Then in April, “The Dutch Knight” overwhelmed the Myanmar star with his grappling to take his light heavyweight belt via decision.
Losing both World Titles has been a bitter pill to swallow, but the 36-year-old star is focusing on the positives and using the setbacks as an opportunity to become a better mixed martial artist.
“It is sad and depressing, but you got to analyze how the match went and analyze how you can improve and grow,” Aung La N Sang says.
“My mindset is more of a growth mindset, so I really had to work on the things in the match that didn’t go well. It’s a learning experience for me, and it’s fine. As depressing as it is, as sad as it is, I take it as a lesson in life.”
Aung La N Sang has already watched the tape, taken lessons from those unfortunate experiences, and incorporated changes into his training regimen at Sanford MMA in Florida, USA.
“I focus on improving in my bad positions, focus on making sure I fight through every bad position, and just focus on the little details of where the head position is and implement my game plan instead of being worried about somebody else’s game plan and somebody else’s strengths,” he says.
The Myanmar athlete’s grappling will surely be tested by Ataides, who also has something to prove after narrowly losing to De Ridder via split decision in February 2020.
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“Wolf” is a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, but he also possesses enormous knockout power. In fact, more than half of his 11 career victories have come via KO.
But that doesn’t intimidate “The Burmese Python,” who believes his opponent’s fighting style will lead to his downfall.
“Ataides has some holes in his striking,” Aung La N Sang says.
“I think he’s very, very head-on in his wrestling and grappling as well, and I tend to do better with people like that.”
The Brazilian, however, has added an interesting twist to his training camp.
In preparation for this middleweight clash, Ataides traveled overseas to train with De Ridder at Combat Brothers in Breda, Netherlands.
For many, that could be a psychological strike, but Aung La N Sang isn’t fazed.
“Good for him,” the Myanmar warrior says of Ataides. “Maybe [De Ridder] will tell you the secret to beating me. Maybe he’ll teach you how to do a front kick and double-leg me.”
Ultimately, “The Burmese Python” isn’t concerned with what “The Dutch Knight” teaches Ataides in Holland. The former two-division king has learned from his mistakes, and he plans to implement changes – along with his latest game plan – when he meets the Brazilian in Singapore.
“I believe I do better on the feet, and I think I can negate his grappling and his wrestling,” Aung La N Sang says.
“I see this bout being won on the feet. I see this bout being won with my movement and my speed. I see this bout being done with a knockout.”
Aung La N Sang may have been heartbroken a few months ago, but he is confident and fired up again.
He also knows that 30 July represents a crossroads in his career, and he plans to take a massive step forward in his journey toward Word Title redemption.
“I don’t have a doubt in my mind that I’m going to get my middleweight belt back,” Aung La N Sang says.
“I’ve done it once, and I’ll do it again. I’ll get my belt back.”