In what will go down as one of the most exciting bouts in ONE Championship history, reigning two-division ONE World Champion Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang delivered the most dramatic one-punch knockout of his career.
On Friday, 29 June, Myanmar’s favorite son finished Japanese contender Ken Hasegawa with a thunderous uppercut. The telling blow was landed in the closing moments of their five-round battle for the ONE Middleweight World Championship at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR.
The sold-out crowd inside the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon ignited when their country’s faithful hero delivered the knockout, as Aung La N Sang powered through adversity yet again to author a stunning storybook ending to his toughest bout to date.
Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, is honoring the captivating performance by awarding both martial artists the ONE Warrior Bonus for “extraordinary display of warrior spirit.”
Aung La N Sang opened up the first round with a massive right hand, which landed on target. The tough Japanese warrior absorbed the punch and did not even flinch. Instead, he fired back with a zippy three-punch combination, which sent the World Champion back towards the fence.
Hasegawa then pressed forward with a slick head punch and body kick combination, followed by another straight left hand from the southpaw stance. That stopped “The Burmese Python” in his tracks. The local favorite, however, retaliated with a wild overhand right to his opponent’s jaw.
The action was just as fierce all throughout the five-round clash, with each man having equal moments to shine.
Although the intensity picked up in the second frame, things got heated in the third. Both competitors unleashed their best offense at the center of the ONE cage.
Following a powerful Aung La N Sang head kick, Hasegawa tagged the champion with a powerful punching combination that reverberated throughout the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium. For five whole minutes, the back-and-forth battle never let up, as both men tried to end matters right then and there.
During the fabled championship rounds, the pair were showing the effects of their grueling battle. Still, neither man let up.
In a strategic adjustment, however, “The Burmese Python” converted on a handful of successful takedown attempts, and even climbed on Hasegawa’s back to threaten with chokes on two separate occasions.
With both martial artists completely exhausted from the war of attrition, it was anyone’s match to win. But Aung La N Sang refused to let his countrymen down, especially in his first World Title defense, and he mustered up the energy to apply even more pressure.
Midway through the final stanza, the two-division ONE World Champion uncorked a devastating right uppercut that instantly turned out Hasegawa’s lights. The Myanmar sports icon had finally won, and earned himself a highlight-reel knockout for the ages.
The end officially came at 3:30 of round five.
Following his captivating victory, Aung La N Sang spoke to Mitch Chilson in the center of the cage and, as always, he used his platform to thank his beloved nation.
“Myanmar, if we work together, we can have peace. That’s what I want. This was one of the toughest bouts of my career, and I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for all the support.
“It was a tough battle from start to finish. Ken Hasegawa is a worthy challenger for my title. I commend him for that. Even though it was difficult, at the back of my mind, I knew that millions of my countrymen were watching. I told myself that I couldn’t afford to lose the bout and the belt.”
Hasegawa, on the other hand, picked himself up from the devastating loss and held his head up high. It was the first knockout loss of his career, but he nonetheless made a valiant, and brilliant, promotional debut.
“It was an honor to showcase my skills in such an incredible match. Hats off to the champion, Aung La N Sang. It was my pleasure to share the cage with you.,” Hasegawa said in a statement later in the evening.
“I did not see the punch coming, and he caught me with a beautiful shot. I was not expecting it, and it dropped me. That was it. What a tough match-up. I am glad to be able to make the fans happy with my performance.
“I would not mind doing it all again in a rematch, but much respect to the champion. It was a great fight.”
With the victory, Aung La N Sang successfully retains the ONE Middleweight World Championship in his first defense. He improves his overall record to 23-10, and will return immediately to the gym in preparation for his next battle.