In January this year, Aung La N Sang stepped in on ten days’ notice to face undefeated ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER in Jakarta, Indonesia.
While his high-risk, high-reward title challenge was unsuccessful, he was the first contender to go the distance with the champ, who had previously finished every opponent to date.
On Friday, 30 June, the 32-year-old known as the “Burmese Python” was given a second chance. In front of a roaring hometown crowd at Yangon’s Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, and with the benefit of a full training camp, Myanmar’s favorite son entered the main event of ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION determined to make history.
All of his hard work paid off, as Aung La N Sang snatched the middleweight belt from Russia’s Bigdash in a thrilling unanimous decision victory. In doing so, he became Myanmar’s first-ever world champion in any sport.
The “Burmese Python” nearly took out the formerly-unbeaten Bigdash early. The Russian was flattened in the opening round when Aung La N Sang uncorked a series of devastating punches. When the Akhmat Fight Team warrior hit the canvas, the onslaught continued.
Each landed strike sent the crowd into a frenzy. The durable Russian weathered the early storm, tying up the challenger as time ticked to a close in the opening frame.
Bigdash was relentless with the takedowns in the second, nearly finishing the match with a rear-naked choke on one attempt, and with strikes on another. Just 10 minutes in, the capacity crowd knew they were witnessing a war for the ages.
The remainder of the contest took place in two acts. Bigdash owned the grappling, while Aung La N Sang was the unquestionably more successful competitor on the feet. The third round saw Bigdash control position from the top, while the local hero opened up the fourth with a heavy overhand right.
Heading into the final stanza, the suspense was heavy in the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium. The “Burmese Python” charged out in the opening seconds to exchange blows, and peppered his opposition with crisp boxing. Bigdash remained persistent with his takedown attempts, and controlled as the bout ticked to a close.
Both men believed they won the rematch, with Bigdash confidently raising his arm in anticipation of hearing his name called out. The Russian’s celebration, however, proved premature. All three judges scored the fight for the new champion, Aung La N Sang, who was overcome with emotion.
“I cannot do this without God, without my teammates and without you, Myanmar,” he stated. “I’m not talented, I’m not fast. But with you, I have courage, I have strength, and now I’ve won the World Title!”
New ONE Middleweight titleholder Aung La N Sang, the country’s first-ever world champion in any sport, improves to 20-10 (1 No Contest), while Bigdash takes his first professional defeat and sits at 9-1.
The two matches have been thrillers thus far, and perhaps there is a trilogy in both of their futures.