Late last year, Reinier de Ridder submitted Aung La N Sang to claim “The Burmese Python’s” middleweight title. Now, on short notice at ONE on TNT IV, the pair will fight in a rematch, up a weight class, with the light heavyweight title on the line.
On Sunday, de Ridder told Cageside Press during day one of the ONE on TNT IV media day that he didn’t consider there to be a rivalry between the two. “To get a rivalry, he should beat me, and he’s not going to beat me any time,” said de Ridder.
Monday, the light heavyweight champion gave his response.
“He can think what he wants. It doesn’t make a difference,” N sang (26-11, 1NC) stated. “I know I’ve made adjustments since the last bout. So I know I can beat him, he’s a one trick pony. I’m a more well-rounded fighter, I know I’m going to break him, and I’m to put him away.”
There might very well be a rivalry there after all. On what getting the loss back means to N Sang, in comparison to some of his others, including would-be opponent Vitaly Bigdash, “it means a lot. He’s definitely shown that he’s a competitor. Last year, it was a bad year for all of us. For me to right my wrong, it’s very important to me.”
This time out, the short-notice nature of Reinier de Ridder stepping in was due to a positive COVID-19 test by Vitaly Bigdash. With their second meeting coming up a division, N Sang believes he’ll have the advantage.
“I think so. I think I’ll have more power,” said N Sang. “I think I’ll be a little bit stronger. I’ve prepared really well for this bout, and I think the person with the more weight is going to be a little bit stronger. I think I’ll have a weight advantage on him.”
The news of the switch actually came while Aung La was in transit. “I flew out from the States thinking that I’d be fighting Bigdash,” revealed the Sanford MMA standout. “Then, in transit, we had a change of opponents. I’m grateful I have an opponent this coming Wednesday.”
Asked about the pressure of fighting someone who took one of his titles, while his home country of Myanmar is in crisis, N Sang noted that “there’s always pressure. When you compete in front of the world, there’s always pressure.” It’s how you deal with that pressure that matters, he continued, “and I think I’m going to be doing a lot better because I’ve been working with a sports psychologist. The thing that is going on in Myanmar, it hasn’t gotten any better. Hopefully I can shine a little light on them, and I can make them proud, and make the people in Myanmar happy.”
Watch the full ONE on TNT IV media day interview with Aung La N Sang above.