ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash (9-0) showed his dominance when he earned a unanimous decision victory over the “Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang (19-10 1 NC), in their first meeting five months ago.
However, when the two meet again in their highly-anticipated rematch on Friday, 30 June at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION, the unbeaten champion expects to get a stoppage victory, and put an end to the challenger’s title ambitions while he holds the belt.
In order to accomplish that, he will need to focus. The event will be held at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, which is Aung La N Sang’s old stomping grounds. Bigdash knows the hometown crowd will rally against him, and he is prepared.
“I expect the audience to be hostile towards me, because I am coming to beat their hero,” he begins. “I am mentally ready for it. I respect Aung La N Sang for having guts to say yes to this fight after the last beating he got from me. He is actually a decent guy, a family man — who knows, maybe if we lived in the same country we could be friends.”
The Rostov-on-Don, Russia native showed exactly what was made of as soon as he debuted in the ONE Championship.
After racking up seven consecutive wins, all with stoppages, he signed with the Asian giant, and his first bout in the promotion was for the belt. In October 2015, he challenged then-titleholder Igor Svirid at ONE: TIGERS OF ASIA for the ONE Middleweight World Championship.
At first glance, the match seemed like it was going to end early, and not in favor of Bigdash. The Russian challenger suffered numerous knockdowns, but he regained his composure, and nearly came back to finish the Kazakh champion in the first stanza. He finally accomplished that in the second round, scoring a TKO 36 seconds into the frame to claim the belt.
The victory, and the gold, were the pinnacle of Bigdash’s career.
“I have sacrificed a lot of time and effort to get this belt, the time I could have spent with my parents, my wife and my son,” he says. “I am proud of what I have achieved.”
Since capturing the most coveted middleweight title in Asia, Bigdash has done nothing but continue to cement his legacy. His first title defense came this past January at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER in Jakarta, Indonesia.
What was originally slated to be a bout with Polish powerhouse Marcin Prachnio turned into a matchup against Aung La N Sang. When Prachnio went down with an injury, the short-notice bout was booked on a mere two weeks’ notice.
The change in opponent and strategy did not faze the Russian champion, who rightfully earned the unanimous decision win that night by overwhelming the challenger with his elite striking and ground control. However, even though the “Burmese Python” lost, he kept the bout competitive with his ‘never-say-die’ attitude.
Now, as 30 June approaches, both men will have the benefit of having already faced each other, with full training camps to prepare. Despite his opponent already being familiar with him, Bigdash anticipates the same outcome as their first encounter, except it will not be decided by the judges.
“Having already fought Aung La N Sang, I know his weaknesses, but he knows how to fight me, too,” he says. “I respect him for showing up, but there is no way we are going to spend five rounds in the cage.”
If the Russian has his way, after dispatching Myanmar’s favorite son, he knows who is next.
“Last time, I was preparing for one opponent, but got Aung La N Sang instead. This time, I am ready for him. I will finish him first, and then I would like to fight that guy, (ONE Welterweight World Champion) Ben Askren. He has been very vocal about me recently.”