Aung La Nsang has his dream fight. A title match in the town he grew up in and an opportunity to become the ONE Championship middleweight champion.
It is an incredible opportunity for the Burmese born middleweight, but it brings tremendous pressure. La Nsang has fought twice in Yangon and won both times, the crowd there has never seen lose and they won’t expect to either.
With a title on the line it should be a full house at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium for ONE: Light of a Nation on Friday night (local time). La Nsang is determined to create a piece of Burmese sporting history by winning the belt.
“My dream is to become a world champion. Being a world champion for my country, which never had a world champion at that level. It’s going to be humongous. It’s going to be huge for my career and for my legacy.”
Myanmar doesn’t have many sporting heroes. In fact, most people would be hard pressed to locate the country on a map. La Nsang was given the nickname “Burmese Python” not because of grappling prowess, but by a promoter who knew nothing about his homeland except the name of a snake.
“It’s kind of sad, because a lot of people don’t know where Myanmar is. My nickname actually came from a promoter in the mid-west, he asked from where I was from and I said, ‘I’m from Myanmar’ he was like ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. Where is that country?’ I said, ‘Oh, you know, like where the Burmese pythons are from’ Then he gave me that nickname, Burmese Python, and it stuck.”
La Nsang faces undefeated champion Vitaly Bigdash on Friday night. He went five rounds with the Russian in January, but took that bout at very late notice.
“I had about two weeks to prepare. It was short notice, and you can tell that after second round, my gas tank wasn’t there. You can tell I wasn’t able to get my preparation that I needed to be able to put up a good fight.”
La Nsang says losing for the first time under the ONE Championship banner was a valuable experience and has caused him to take a more professional approach to his lifestyle and preparation.
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“That loss in my mind is very positive, it’s made me more professional. I’ve got a professional dietician, and it really opened my mind to the level that I need to be. I take it as a positive. I actually am happy that I lost, it just lets me be the way I need to be.”
Under the circumstances going the full five rounds with Bigdash was a credible result. It gives La Nsang a lot of confidence heading into the rematch.
“My next fight (with Bigdash) is going to be a lot different from my first fight. I’m a lot more prepared. I’ll be able to fight every second of that 25 minutes, if we have to go the distance.”
The first fight took place on neutral ground in Indonesia. But the rematch is in La Nsang’s old hometown and the fans at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium will be firmly behind him.
“There is so much love for me when I fight in my home country. I’m very appreciative of the support that I get when I fight in Myanmar.”
People might struggle to pinpoint Myanmar’s location on a traditional map. But La Nsang is slowly putting his country on the sporting map and can take a big step in the right direction by becoming the third man to hold the ONE Championship middleweight strap.
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