ONE Championship always creates special memories in Yangon, Myanmar.
When the world’s most exciting martial arts action returns to the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on Friday, 23 February, with ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD, more unforgettable moments will undoubtedly be captured.
Since ONE held its first show in the country back in July 2015, there have been classic world title bouts, exciting tournaments featuring homegrown athletes, and incredible finishes that will be on highlight reels for years to come.
Of course, it is always electrifying when national hero “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang makes an appearance. In fact, he will be headlining the upcoming event when he challenges Brazil’s Alexandre Machado for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship.
As our heroes prepare to storm back into the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium to showcase their skills, here are five of the best highlights from ONE’s previous blockbuster events in Myanmar.
#1 Aung La N Sang’s Epic World Title Win
Perhaps the biggest martial arts bout in Myanmar’s history happened in June 2017, when national hero “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang challenged then-unbeaten titleholder Vitaly Bigdash for the ONE Middleweight World Championship.
It was a rematch from their main event clash five months earlier, but this time, Aung La N Sang had a full eight-week training camp, and he was competing for the world title in front of his faithful countrymen.
Myanmar’s favorite son put on an awe-inspiring performance, as he knocked down the unstoppable Russian early in the first round, and nearly finished him. From there, it was a seesaw battle, with Bigdash taking “The Burmese Python” down, but Aung La N Sang nullifying his attacks and battering the world champ with keen striking.
After five rounds, the judges rendered a unanimous decision for Aung La N Sang. With the win, he became the ONE Middleweight World Champion, and the first Myanmar world champion in sporting history.
He also gave an inspiring speech to his fellow compatriots, saying “I’m not talented. I’m not good. I’m not fast. But with you, I have courage, I have strength, I have what I need to win the world title!”
“The Burmese Python” will attempt to win a second world title on 23 February, as he meets Alexandre Machado for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship.
#2 Bibiano Fernandes’ First-Ever Knockout
A minute into the third round, the Brazilian champion marched forward with an uppercut, left hook, and a right cross, dropping Finnish submission specialist Toni “Dynamite” Tauru to the canvas. It was Fernandes’ first, and only, knockout recorded to date in over 10 years of competition.
Besides successfully defending his ONE Bantamweight World Championship that night, “The Flash” also proved that he had explosive power in his hands to match his devastating Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championship skills.
While he added to his highlight reel in Myanmar, he will not be competing at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD. Instead, he has a date with dual world champion Martin Nguyen at ONE: IRON WILL in March.
#3 Adriano Moraes’ Thrilling Comeback
After losing the ONE Flyweight World Championship four months earlier, Brazil’s Adriano Moraes was on a mission to bounce back against the Philippines’ Eugene Toquero at ONE: UNION OF WARRIORS. He may have been the favorite, but was nearly upset by Toquero in the first round.
Despite initial success with an early takedown, Moraes was stunned by a flying knee from Toquero that sent him reeling. He was very nearly knocked out moments later by another knee, but was able to regain his composure, score another takedown, and submit Toquero with a D’arce choke for the dramatic comeback.
That win set Moraes up for a shot at the Interim ONE Flyweight World Championship five months later, which he seized with a rear-naked choke against Tilek Batyrov to wrap gold around his waist once again. A year later, he defeated Kairat Akhmetov to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion once again.
#4 ONE’s First-Ever Open Weight Super-Bout
Aung La N Sang makes the list twice, but that is also because he made history in Myanmar two times in 2017.
Four and a half months after claiming the ONE Middleweight World Championship at home, he stepped up in weight to meet four-time heavyweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing world champion Alain “The Panther” Ngalani in the promotion’s first-ever Open Weight Super-Bout.
It was a methodical battle, as both men briefly tested each other’s striking before the contest wound up on the canvas. Ngalani reversed Aung La N Sang’s takedown attempt, and he tried using his sheer bulk to exhaust the local hero.
“The Burmese Python,” however, felt Ngalani tiring out, and wrapped him into a guillotine choke. He eventually forced the tap with 29 seconds remaining in the opening stanza to claim an epic victory.
The challenges keep getting bigger for Aung La N Sang, but that is what he thrives on.
#5 Phoe Thaw Wins An Epic Thriller
While Aung La N Sang is Myanmar’s most popular sports icon, there is another homegrown athlete who is rising to national prominence.
Phoe “Bushido” Thaw has emerged as the country’s next martial arts superstar. The 33-year-old is the 2016 ONE Myanmar Featherweight Tournament Champion, and has a perfect record of 5-0.
Most recently, he competed opposite Saw Ba Oo in the co-main event of ONE: HERO’S DREAM last November, and the two kept everyone in the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on their feet. The two athletes engaged in a riveting back-and-forth affair, which saw multiple near finishes on the feet and the ground from each competitor.
Phoe Thaw and Saw Ba Oo beautifully transitioned their lethwei backgrounds to the cage, and showed improved ground games throughout the 15-minute high-octane bout. In the end, “Bushido” did just enough to grab a razor-thin split decision.
Both Phoe Thaw and Saw Ba Oo may not have been announced for ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD just yet, but it would not be surprising to see one of these talents featured on the card.
Yangon | 23 February | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com |