Former ONE double champ Aung La N Sang returned to the cage on Friday at ONE Championship’s Battleground card, looking to get back in the win column, and shake off a pair of losses to Reinier de Ridder. Losses that cost N Sang both his middleweight and light heavyweight titles.
Opposite Aung La was another top middleweight and former foe of de Ridder, Leandro Ataides. The Brazilian had joined the champ in training ahead of the match-up with N Sang, and the game plan he’d employ was a big question: would he stand and trade with the ex-champ, or follow de Ridder’s path and rely on wrestling and grappling?
Early on, at least, Ataides did settle into a stand-up battle. But it wasn’t long, just two minutes in, before Ataides mixed things up. He changed levels, under N Sang’s looping punches, and executed a near-perfect double-leg takedown. N Sang was able to prevent the Brazilian from passing to mount, and while he gave up his back scrambling out, the fighter from Myanmar did make it back to his feet.
That led to some clinching and positional fighting along the fence, but the ref quickly broke that up, restarting the fight at center. Some heated exchanges followed, with N Sang going upstairs with a head kick. Ataides would target the body, but N Sang answered back, catching Ataides on the chin after starting the sequence with a knee. “The Burmese Python” would continue his attack, lefts and rights flying, and the next time he caught Ataides, he absolutely cracked him with a right hand. That secured the knockout win as Ataides dropped to the floor.
Simply put, Aung La N Sang returned to the win column in a big way on Friday, making a statement: that his journey is far from over. After the fight, N Sang exited the ONE circle to address ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong, telling his boss to “bring on anybody.”
Official Result: Aung La N Sang def. Leandro Ataides by knockout, Round 1, 3:45