Burmese Python an­nounces his re­turn

The Myanmar Times - - Sport - RJ VOGT rj.vogt@mm­times.com

HE’S com­ing back. Aung La Nsang will travel home to the Golden Land on Oc­to­ber 7 for a ONE Cham­pi­onship fight against Pol­ish mid­dleweight Michal Paster­nak in Yangon’s Thuwunna Sta­dium. The win­ner of the fight is ex­pected to com­pete for the ONE Cham­pi­onship mid­dleweight ti­tle later this year.

But Aung La Nsang ar­rived a lit­tle early for a meet­ing in Nay Pyi Taw with former pres­i­dent Thein Sein. The former pres­i­dent was im­pressed by Aung La Nsang’s March 16 win in Yangon over Egyp­tian Muhammed Ali, the Kachin mar­tial artist’s first fight on home soil in his 11-year MMA ca­reer., but the meet­ing fell through. Aung La Nsang will be back in Yangon to­day to an­nounce the fight at a press con­fer­ence at Kan­daw­gyi Palace Ho­tel, but spent yes­ter­day tour­ing in the cap­i­tal.

“The peo­ple of Myan­mar are awe­some MMA fans. Al­though MMA is a fairly new sport in Myan­mar, it brings me ful­fill­ment to see fans en­joy the sport back home,” Aung La Nsang said about the up­com­ing fight.

The Burmese Python – as he is known in the ring – will be mak­ing his re­turn to Myan­mar com­ing off a July win in Hefei over Rus­sian Alek­sei Bu­torin. Aung La Nsang, who stepped in after a train­ing in­jury side­lined the sched­uled ONE mid­dleweight cham­pion Vi­taly Big­dash, and grasped the op­por­tu­nity for another show­ing on the international stage, sub­du­ing the pre­vi­ously un­beaten Bu­torin with an arm tri­an­gle in the sec­ond round.

Sub­mis­sions are his strong suit, and the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the “Python” moniker. But Aung La N’Sang says he’s just as com­fort­able go­ing for knock­outs, and his record – nine wins by sub­mis­sion, seven by knock­out – at­tests to both his strikes and his ground game.

The 31-year old fighter, who is cur­rently at 210 pounds but will come down to 205 for the fight, will need all his strength to take on Paster­nak, who will ar­rive with an 11-1 record. From Pinc­zow, Poland, the lanky 6-foot, 2-inch Paster­nak also boasts equal success in strik­ing and take­down fight­ing. Paster­nak suf­fered his first loss in his last bout, how­ever, the in­au­gu­ral ONE Light Heavy­weight World Cham­pi­onship against Brazil­ian jiu jitsu leg­end Roger Gra­cie.

“My last bout taught me a lot,” Paster­nak said. “I am young and tal­ented, and I will show the world why I de­serve to be called one of the top mid­dleweight con­tenders in ONE Cham­pi­onship. I know Aung is the home­town hero ... But I’m here to spoil the party.”

Aung La N’Sang was less gra­cious when in­formed of Paster­nak’s pre­vi­ously un­de­feated record.

“He just had his first loss. He’s about to have his sec­ond.”

Since he last spoke with The Myan­mar Times, Aung La Nsang has been train­ing at his Crazy 88 gym in Bal­ti­more, US. There he works with more than 200 stu­dents, rang­ing in age from three to 60, in­struct­ing in mixed mar­tial arts.

He’s also been fight­ing through the chal­lenges – and en­joy­ing the suc­cesses – of be­ing a new father. His son Aung De was born just 16 months ago, and Aung La N’Sang said he’s al­ready teach­ing him some shadow box­ing.

“Here’s your next fighter in about 18 years,” he said, smil­ing as he thumbed through pho­tos on his smart­phone.

Per­haps Myan­mar’s most renowned fighter abroad, Aung La Nsang spent his first day back tour­ing Nay Pyi Taw for the first time. His itin­er­ary in­cluded vis­its to par­lia­ment, a Myan­mar Red Cross So­ci­ety train­ing cen­tre, and even an oblig­a­tory photo on an empty mega-high­way.

It took some time get­ting reac­quainted with his celebrity, though: He caused a mi­nor frenzy at the Feel restau­rant high­way stop, with mul­ti­ple selfie-seek­ing waiters and pa­trons ap­proach­ing with cell phones in hand.

“It’s so weird, com­ing back,” he said. “It’s an hon­our, but I’m not used to it – it can be kinda awk­ward.”

Even if com­ing home to Myan­mar can bring a cer­tain level of un­com­fort­able vis­i­bil­ity, there’s one place Aung La Nsang says he is most look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to: the ring.

Photo: Zarni Phyo

Aung La Nsang met with Myan­mar Red Cross So­ci­ety vol­un­teers at a civil­ian emer­gency first-re­spon­der train­ing fa­cil­ity in Nay Pyi Taw yes­ter­day.

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