The greatest moment of Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang’s career was made so much sweeter because of the road he took to get there.
There was a catch, however. Aung La N Sang took the bout on short notice and had just 10 days to get ready. It was a “big risk, big reward” situation, and his gamble did not pay off. Bigdash’s extra preparation time paid dividends and he had the stamina to win via unanimous decision.
However, because of “The Burmese Python’s” courage to compete at the last minute, and the heart he showed during the contest, despite the odds stacked against him, he was granted an immediate rematch.
The rematch was scheduled to take place five and a half months later, but some people thought it might be a mistake for Aung La N Sang to step back in the cage with the undefeated Russian straight away.
“After the loss, a lot of my uncles and my family members said, ‘You shouldn’t take that fight so quickly,’” the 33-year-old recalls.
“I knew with the first fight, I didn’t have time to put on a full training camp. So I went back and I put together a full training camp to ensure I was going to be in great shape, and I was going to be 100 percent ready.
“Everything went around making sure I was ready for the fight. Everything that I did, everything that I ate, every time that I rested – everything was geared almost for fear of Bigdash.”
With an eight-week training camp, Aung La N Sang was prepared to step back into the cage with Bigdash when they met in the main event of ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION in late June.
Not only was this a chance for redemption, but “The Burmese Python” was also challenging for the gold in front of his loyal fans at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
That gave him extra strength because there was no way he wanted to let his compatriots down on that fateful night.
“I felt ready,” he says. “I knew the power that he possessed, and I knew what his strengths were, but in my head, I knew I was in shape – unlike the first fight where I felt like I had to get him in the first round or the second round.”
For 25 minutes, Aung La N Sang and Bigdash engaged in one of the most memorable title contests in ONE Championship history, which ended up as 2017’s “Bout Of The Year.”
Both warriors came close to finishes in the first and second rounds – especially when the Myanmar sports icon dropped the Russian in the opening stanza.
In the final three frames, it was a battle of wills, as “The Burmese Python” controlled the action on the feet while the undefeated titleholder constantly searched for takedowns and a chance to work his ground game.
After the final bell sounded, all three judges scored the bout in favor of Aung La N Sang, who captured the ONE Middleweight World Title and became Myanmar’s first mixed martial arts World Champion.
“Prior to this, I’ve come close, but I’ve never been a champion in any other mixed martial arts organization,” he says.
“For me to be able to do it in front of my country and my countrymen, it was the best feeling. I don’t fight out of emotion. I don’t fight out of hatred. I don’t fight out of revenge. It wasn’t avenging the loss. It wasn’t the personal reasons that made me happy.
“It was the fact that I finally reached championship status, that I was finally a champion — that was the greatest accomplishment with that match.”
He may have gone on to achieve great things in his subsequent bouts, but all of those factors combined are why “The Burmese Python” counts this as his most cherished win in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
“The Bigdash rematch was my favorite victory,” he adds.
“I wish I could have gotten a finish, but for sure that was my biggest victory. It was a hard one because of how badly he hurt me in the first fight. It was hard. It takes a lot of mental toughness to come back and win from the beating he gave me in the first fight.”
Aung La N Sang, who is now a two-division ONE World Champion, will return to the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on Friday, 26 October.