This coming Friday, 3 November, ONE Middleweight World Champion Aung La “Burmese Python” N Sang will clash with four-time Muay Thai and kickboxing heavyweight world champion Alain “The Panther” Ngalani. The bout takes place as the main event of ONE: HERO’S DREAM in Aung La N Sang’s home turf of Yangon, Myanmar.
It will be a historic night, as the two elite martial artists will compete in the promotion’s first-ever Open Weight Super Bout. Each competitor will bring their world-class skill sets to the cage in this epic encounter to determine who the better athlete truly is.
Two Origins, ONE Path
Aung La N Sang is the golden boy of Myanmar. The “Burmese Python” grew up in the country’s Kachin State, before his family moved to the capital city so he and his siblings could attend the Yangon International School. Following graduation, the lifelong athlete relocated to America in 2003, where he studied Agriculture Science at Andrews University.
Just a year later, he started his formal education in the martial arts at a Carlson Gracie affiliate gym nearly an hour away from campus. Proven adept at Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, and Muay Thai, he made his professional debut in 2005, and competed throughout the American Midwest as a college student.
After receiving his degree in 2007, however, he set up shop in Maryland, and cultivated his talent at his longtime gym home of Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts. In 2014, Aung La N Sang joined ONE Championship, and blazed a trail to the ONE Middleweight World Championship this past June by defeating Vitaly Bigdash in front of his countrymen.
While Aung La N Sang got a late start to combat sports, Ngalani had an early beginning. After being picked on by some older classmates in the school cafeteria when he was 6-years-old, his mother enrolled him in judo to learn self-defense.
The Cameroonian was hooked, and moved on to karate, Muay Thai, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and other martial arts. He would become a bodyguard to celebrities and politicians in the Ivory Coast, and then went to college for Sports Science.
However, Ngalani would soon leave university and follow his heart to his true passion — martial arts. In 2001, he relocated to Hong Kong, won four Muay Thai and kickboxing world heavyweight championships, and in 2013, started his quest for the most epic title of all — the ONE Heavyweight World Championship by signing with the promotion.
The Golden Road To Yangon
Aung La N Sang has become a regular at every ONE show held at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium. In fact, the last time he competed at the venue was back in June for his title rematch against then-unbeaten ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION.
Unlike their first encounter five months earlier, where the “Burmese Python” valiantly filled-in on two weeks’ notice, he had a full eight-week training camp, and seemed refreshed when he battled the Russian. He nearly knocked Bigdash out in the opening stanza, and later nullified the Russian’s attacks while constantly pushing the pace on the feet.
That ultimately won him the ONE Middleweight World Championship, and earned him the distinction of being Myanmar’s first World Champion in sporting history, cementing his place as a national hero.
It was clear Aung La N Sang would be returning to Yangon in November, but the plan was to provide fans with a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. That led to the promotion’s first-ever Open Weight Super Bout, and the perfect opponent was discovered in September.
At ONE: TOTAL VICTORY, Ngalani made his triumphant return to the organization after 13 months away, and it took him just 11 seconds to knock out former ONE Heavyweight World Title challenger Hideki “Shrek” Sekine. In doing so, he set the record for the quickest KO in the heavyweight division.
Fresh off his record-setting performance, Ngalani will again make history alongside Myanmar’s favorite son, and put on a show the world will not soon forget.
Aung La N Sang is confident in his ability to strike and grapple with anyone, and he plans to utilize every tool necessary against Ngalani in this main event tilt. However, he plans to exhibit patience.
After all, he expects “The Panther” to give it everything he’s got for the duration of first round, but anticipates his energy will waver as the bout goes on. That is when the Myanmar hero will make his move, and will look to score a TKO or perhaps a surprise submission.
As for Ngalani, a four-time Muay Thai and kickboxing world heavyweight champion, he is also confident in his abilities. But being the bigger man and having displayed one-punch knockout ability, he will stick to his strengths and look to deliver another satisfying highlight reel knockout.
If that happens, hearts all throughout the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium would undoubtedly break.
Brandon Vera, ONE Heavyweight World Champion
“The appeal of an Open Weight Super Bout is by itself, fascinating. But now, add the fact that Ngalani is one of the top talents in the heavyweight division, and Aung La N Sang is our ONE Middleweight World Champion, all-in-all it means this bout will be explosive and finish early. Striking and distance is going to be key for both athletes, for their own individual reasons. These are two of the biggest finishers in ONE, and it is a Super Bout, so how could I not be excited for this?
“Aung La N Sang is going to work his way inside and wear Ngalani down past the second round, where the spinning kicks are gone, and Aung La N Sang is better on the ground. A tight, close game will be beneficial for Aung La N Sang — that is what he is going to have to do to pull off a win against a larger opponent.
“Ngalani’s biggest advantage is his striking, second is his size. He is going to have to keep his opponent outside in his kicking range, and when Aung La N Sang does come close, he will have to use his size and strength to avoid the takedown. Ngalani needs to circle back to the center and keep his back off the cage.”
Rich Franklin, Martial Arts Legend And Former Middleweight World Champion
“Ngalani’s athleticism has produced some of ONE’s best highlight reel moments, but Aung La N Sang proved his resilience against Bigdash, so this will be a clash of titans!
“I have yet to see Ngalani in deep waters, and Aung La N Sang has proven his gas tank, so his key to victory is patience and pressing a steady pace. If Ngalani is not careful, his size could be a disadvantage. It takes a lot of oxygen to fuel those muscles. Ngalani is the more explosive athlete, and needs to relax and make his explosions count.”
Mitch Chilson, Broadcast Analyst And Former ONE Athlete
“Aung La N Sang is a strong, big middleweight. Against Bigdash, he showed clean, crisp boxing and good footwork. Now he is giving up a massive amount of weight to compete against Ngalani. I expect Aung La N Sang to try to use his boxing and footwork to close the distance and take this contest to the ground. He will need a high level of conditioning to outwork Ngalani. Aung La N Sang is also a good grappler. He has an active guard and can finish from the bottom.
“Ngalani is a very muscular heavyweight. All that muscle comes at a cost. Muscle needs large amounts of energy. If you are not in top condition, the muscle will eat up stamina. Ngalani will need a big gas tank to stop the takedowns. He does his best work on the feet. He has brilliant timing and power in his shots, and not many martial artists have his experience in striking. His achilles heel has been grappling, and his takedown defense will need to be on point.”