After Battleground KO, ONE Championship’s Aung La N Sang Eyeing Abbasov, Okami Fights


Former ONE Championship middleweight and light heavyweight champ Aung La N Sang returned to the win column on Friday, in what was almost certainly a cathartik moment for the Sanford MMA fighter.

“The Burmese Python,” arguably the most recognizable athlete out of Myanmar, starched Brazil’s Leandro Ataides with a highlight reel first-round knockout. The win snapped a two fight skid that saw N Sang lose both of his titles to The Netherlands’ Reinier de Ridder.

“There’s always a lot riding when I fight, because I don’t just fight for myself now, I fight for my family, and my people back home,” N Sang (27-12, 1NC) told Cageside Press following the win, speaking at a virtual post-fight press scrum following the event in Kallang, Singapore. “And it’s been a rough year for all of us. It’s been an emotional one. During training camp, I had days when I would break down, because of what’s going on back in my country.”

By that, N Sang is referring to the civil unrest at home in Myanmar, which has seen civilians clash with military forces following a coup six months ago that overthrew the democratically elected government in the Southeast Asian nation. A humanitarian crisis is now brewing.

“Adversity is what makes you better, pressure is what makes diamonds,” N Sang said of the hardships, mental and otherwise, he faced ahead of the fight. “Tonight, I was able to reap what I sow. I put in a lot for this camp, I train with great, great training partners and great trainers to improve as a mixed martial artist and put on a great show for the fans.”

Following the bout, Aung La exited the cage to address ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong, reportedly sending him a simple message: “bring on anyone.” Following the victory, Cageside Press asked the former champ what would mean more to him: a third fight with de Ridder, or completing his trilogy with Vitaly Bigdash, a fight originally planned for earlier this year.

Rather than those fights, however, N Sang is looking to other options. “When I was a champion, [Kiamrian] Abbasov called me out too, and I know Yushin Okami wants a shot too.” All these people can talk, N Sang continued, “but you’ve got to back up your talking. On social media too, all these people talk a lot. But let’s do it, let’s make these fights happen.”

“I’m down for anyone and anybody that deserves it. For me right now, it’s to become a better version of myself and to put on exciting shows for the fans,” added N Sang. There is one fight he appears sour on at the moment, however, though he would accept it if offered. “Honestly, Reinier [de Ridder] isn’t an exciting fight for me, but if the title shot is there for me, I’ll take it in a heartbeat.”

Watch the full post-fight press scrum from ONE Championship’s Battleground with Aung La N Sang above.


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