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Mixed Martial Arts

Aung La N Sang says thunderous Thuwunna atmosphere will play a part in his latest title defence

Myanmar’s two-division world champion pays tribute to the atmosphere generated at the Yangon venue



ONE Championship

“The Burmese Python” returns home on 26 October for the latest bout in his remarkable ONE Championship career.

Myanmar’s Aung La N Sang is set for action in the main event of ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS in Yangon when he faces off against undefeated contender Mohammad “O Lutador” Karaki at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium.

Aung La N Sang bouts in Yangon are always must-see TV, and the man himself is equally excited to return to the arena that has seen him achieve so much success in recent months.

“I’m very excited. It’s going to be a great match-up,” the 33-year-old says.

“It’s just a different world over there. It’s motivating for me. It motivates me to do better, to get better, and to become better. I’m excited.”

The bout will see two-division World Champion Aung La N Sang defend his ONE Middleweight World Title as he looks to follow up on one of the greatest battles in ONE Championship history.

“The Burmese Python’s” epic five-round tussle with Japan’s Ken Hasegawa at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR was decided by a huge knockout for the Myanmar athlete.

And people are still talking about that contest four months on as one of the very best bouts ever seen inside the ONE Championship cage.

“When I fight, I always look for the finish. It doesn’t matter if it’s round one, round two, round three, or all the way to round five. I’m always looking to get the finish,” he explains.

“Ken Hasegawa is a very tough opponent, very game, so it was a five-round war until the very end.

“I took away a lot. I learned a lot about his style as a southpaw and my difficulties getting range with a guy that moves like that. I’ve been adjusting and making some changes to sharpen my technique up.”

Aung La N Sang’s latest challenger arrives in ONE Championship as an undefeated contender. Lebanese star Karaki has a career record of 9-0 including eight stoppage finishes. He is already a two-weight Desert Force Champion and Phoenix Middleweight Champion, and is looking to add to his collection of belts by dethroning “The Burmese Python” and claiming the ONE Middleweight Title.

“I know he’s more of a grappler. He has heavy, heavy hands when he grounds and pounds,” Aung La N Sang says.

“I’ve seen most of his fight videos, so I know what kind of arsenal he has. I don’t need to watch his fights every day. I can watch it a couple of times and I can understand the kind of fighter he is, the kind of pressure he uses, and what his strengths are.

“He hasn’t fought the level of fights that I have. I’m going to test him during the fight, and it’s going to be a great fight.”

Aung La N Sang is a national hero to the people of Myanmar, who pack the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium every time he competes. The atmosphere generated in the arena during his bouts has fast become known as one of the most electric in global mixed martial arts.

The ONE Middleweight Champion is fully acclimatised to the Yangon venue, but it will be Karaki’s first exposure to the electric atmosphere, which can be intimidating for a first-time athlete.

“Every time you step out in the arena, it’s crazy – all the fans cheering, going crazy,” Aung La N Sang says.

“I’ve been there, and I know how to deal with the nerves. It’s going to be up to him if he can deal with those nerves. That kind of excitement can get to a fighter without as much experience.

“As much as I appreciate and I’m very thankful for all the fans, it doesn’t really get to me on the night of the performance.”

As well as the atmosphere itself, the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium holds added significance ahead of the bout. Aung La N Sang has never lost a bout in the Yangon arena, and he plans to continue that run of success with another victory in front of his fellow countrymen on 26 October.

“I’m going to break him in the first round,” he predicts.

“He’s going to feel it in that first round. Rounds two and three, I’m going to take him out.

“I say that, but if it goes five rounds, I’m more than happy to go five rounds. I’ve been there before, and I’m bringing everything I have with me. I’m ready to go.”

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK's national media covering major sporting events including UFC world title fights, Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships, Grand National and the FA Cup Final.


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