For the past several weeks, undefeated ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash has been training specifically to fight Marcio Prachnio in anticipation of his first title defense at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER.
However, after an untimely injury forced the Polish contender to withdraw from the contest, the “Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang has stepped up on two weeks’ notice, and will challenge the Russian for the belt at the promotion’s 2017 opening card on Saturday Night, 14 January, at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia.
Although the last-minute switch has caused Bigdash to alter his game plan and preparation entirely, he remains confident in his skills and character.
“[Aung La] N Sang is a completely opposite opponent,” the 32-year-old title holder says. “I had to change everything for this fight and opponent, but I think I am a well-rounded fighter, and a champion must be ready to defend the belt against any opponent. So I will be ready for this new contender.”
Despite holding a deceiving 19-9 overall record, N Sang has been absolutely flawless since joining ONE Championship in 2014. Riding a four-fight win streak, he is unbeaten in his promotional campaign, and has looked more and more impressive in each outing.
Most recently, he defeated ex-ONE Light Heavyweight World Title challenger Michael Pasternak via unanimous decision last October at ONE: STATE OF WARRIORS, the first and only victory of his to ever go the distance.
That could all be chalked up to the Myanmar hero’s calculated attack. The Crazy 88 MMA warrior is a fierce Muay Thai kickboxer with solid boxing skills and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In fact, that stylistic blend has led him to 18 finishes, including 11 submission victories and seven TKOs.
To say he has earned the champion’s respect is an understatement.
“Aung La N Sang is a really well-rounded fighter, and very experienced with good conditioning. He is real threat in this division and I want to prove myself in a fight with such an interesting opponent,” the Russian explains.
“Our styles are pretty close, so we both will use the same weapons in this fight, and only in the fight we will know who is better in every area of fighting. I respect him as a fighter and respect his skills, but I do not see anything to be frightened of.”
At first, Bigdash was a karate kid. In 1996, he took up kyokushinkai, a full contact style of the discipline, at a sports club in the Russian port city of Rostov-on-Don. He advanced quickly, winning a slew of regional tournaments and even acquiring his brown belt. Soon thereafter, he switched to Muay Thai, and then when he discovered MMA, he decided to round out his game with submission prowess.
The Akhmat Fight Team product made his professional debut in 2012 and has not looked back. He racked up seven consecutive victories, before signing with ONE to battle then-champion Igor Svirid for the ONE Middleweight World Championship at ONE: TIGERS OF ASIA in October 2015. Bigdash survived an early onslaught before scoring a TKO victory of Svirid in the second round to claim the prestigious belt.
Now holding a perfect 8-0 record, which includes four wins by TKO and another four by submission, the Russian looks to extend his immaculate streak by defeating a durable opponent and worthy contender in Aung La N Sang.
Amidst the late replacement and the necessary changes to his fight strategy, Bigdash will not let the circumstances faze him nor ruin his big moment.
“This championship belt is my first belt ever, and I am really proud to get it in a world-class promotion,” he states. “It is my first title defense and it is a very special feeling for me. I will try to do my best to keep it and bring it back to my team, Akhmat.”
If for any reason he needed more encouragement, all he has to do is close his eyes and imagine the smile on the face of his wife and his happy seven-month old child.
“The biggest motivation for me is my family and their support,” he adds. “I want my kid to be proud of me.”