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“The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang heads home to challenge for second world title

Myanmar’s national sporting hero returns home to challenge for the vacant ONE Light-Heavyweight World Title

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One of the biggest stars of Asian martial arts looks to grow his legacy as he returns home for ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD on February 23.

“The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang is the current ONE Middleweight World Champion, having won the title in thrilling fashion after a five-round war with former champion Vitaly Bigdash at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION last year.

National hero: ONE Middleweight World Champion Aung La N Sang is Myanmar's first - and only - sporting world champion (pic: ONE Championship)

National hero: ONE Middleweight World Champion Aung La N Sang is Myanmar’s first – and only – sporting world champion (pic: ONE Championship)

That victory saw him become Myanmar’s first world champion in any sport, as he achieved hero status in his homeland. And that that fame grew even more when he took on, and defeated, heavyweight knockout artist Alain Ngalani in a special open-weight super bout at ONE: HERO’S DREAM last November.

Now Aung La N Sang returns home once again to challenge for the vacant ONE Light-Heavyweight World Title. He’ll take on Brazilian Alexandre “Bebezao” Machado in the night’s main event at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, home of his previous two wins as he bids to complete a memorable hat-trick on home soil.

Like “The Burmese Python”, Machado also holds a victory over the hulking Ngalani having stopped the Hong Kong heavyweight by TKO in August 2016, and heads into the contest with an 8-2 professional record. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has plied his trade at heavyweight in recent years, but is looking to move back down to light-heavyweight to challenge for the vacant title in Yangon as he makes his return to ONE Championship after 18 months away.

Dropping a division: Heavyweight Alexandre Machado switches to light-heavyweight to challenge for the vacant title

Dropping a division: Heavyweight Alexandre Machado switches to light-heavyweight to challenge for the vacant title

ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said: “Home of ONE Middleweight World Champion Aung La N Sang, Yangon is the epicenter of authentic martial arts action in Myanmar. The last time ONE Championship rocked the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, ‘The Burmese Python’ blew the roof off the arena with a thrilling performance.

“Now, he’s set to face off against Brazil’s Alexandre Machado in front of his hometown crowd once again, this time for the vacant ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship. It’s going to be another memorable night of action for fans in Yangon and from all over the world. Get ready for some major fireworks!”

The night’s co-main event will see a pivotal clash in the ONE lightweight division as Singapore’s Amir Khan takes on Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin.

Dangerous finisher: Amir Khan has finished all bar one of his nine career wins (pic: ONE Championship)

Dangerous finisher: Amir Khan has finished all bar one of his nine career wins (pic: ONE Championship)

Evolve MMA product Khan is considered to be one fo the most talented martial artists to come out of Singapore and has earned rave reviews with a string of knockout performances. The 23-year-old prodigy is riding a six-bout win streak, with a 9-2 record that boasts seven KO/TKO finishes and one submission. The one bout that went the distance was arguably the most impressive, important performance of his career as he earned a unanimous decision against teak-tough Australian veteran Adrian Pang in his most recent bout.

He’ll face Nastyukhin, a 28-year-old from Russia whose 11-3 record features 10 stoppage victories (six by KO/TKO and four by submission). He holds a spectacular win over former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, as well as stoppage victories over Rob Lisita and Yusuke Kawanago.

Nasty striking: Russian finisher Timofey Nastyyukhin has six KOs on his record (pic: ONE Championship)

Nasty striking: Russian finisher Timofey Nastyyukhin has six KOs on his record (pic: ONE Championship)

Also set for action in Myanmar is former ONE Lightweight Title challenger Ev “E.T.” Ting. the Malaysian sensation, who trains out of Auckland, New Zealand, boasts an impressive 14-4 pro record, including five KOs and four submissions.

His last performance saw him defeat former ONE Welterweight World Champion Nobuatsu Suzuki via first-round TKO. Now Ting will look to repeat the feat when he steps into the ONE Championship cage to face another noted contender – Ariel Sexton.

Known as “Tarzan”, Canada’s Sexton brings an aggressive, attacking grappling style to the ONE Championship cage. The Vancouver native earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under the tutelage of the legendary Renzo Gracia, and his grappling skills are clearly illustrated in his record, which shows eight submissions from his 10 career wins. Sexton also owns three KO victories in his 11-3 (1 NC) record, including a TKO finish of Roger Huerta in his last outing.

Submission magician: Eight of Ariel Sexton's 10 career wins have come by way of submission (pic: ONE Championship)

Submission magician: Eight of Ariel Sexton’s 10 career wins have come by way of submission (pic: ONE Championship)

And Myanmar’s native martial art of lethwei will be represented inside the ONE Championship cage, as two of the best exponents of the art go toe to toe. Saw Min Min is the winner of the 2017 ONE: LIGHT OF A NATIONA Flyweight Tournament and one of Myanmar’s fastest-rising talents. Both his performances inside the ONE Championship cage have finished inside the distance – one by KO and one by submission.

He’ll take on fellow countryman Ye Thway Ne, who has a lethwei record of 41-1-29. The veteran has since looked to further his career in the cage and has a 2-1 record from his bouts to date, including a stunning first-round knockout of Saw Thar Nge in his most recent contest.

Ticket information for ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD can be found at the official ONE Championship website, ONEFC.com.

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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