Former two-division ONE World Champion Aung La N Sang will finally have his chance to square off with Japanese MMA icon Yushin Okami.
After spending the past few years politely exchanging words through social media and expressing their desire to fight each other, the battle for Asia’s top middleweight will finally go down at ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Election in Singapore on Saturday, November 19.
Ever since his trilogy bout with former middleweight king Vitaly Bigdash in February, “The Burmese Python” has been fine-tuning his skills at Sanford MMA in Florida and patiently waiting to make his inevitable return.
So once he was offered the fight with Okami, the Myanmar sports hero was happy to put pen to paper and set a date for his clash with the longtime Japanese star.
Aung La N Sang said:
“I feel like I have a mission now. As a fighter, nothing is certain until you sign on the dotted lines. For me to get the contract signed and ready to go, it feels like I’m on a mission now.”
That mission will be to defeat one of the best Asian MMA fighters to ever lace up the 4-ounce gloves.
While the former ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion is training hard to beat Okami, he admits that he’s spent years admiring the Japanese fighter’s body of work, which includes an impressive 37 professional victories.
Speaking about Okami, Aung La N Sang said:
“He’s one of the Asian mixed martial artists I looked up to in the last 10 years and he’s fought in different high-level organizations, so he’s a great one to test myself with.”
Aung La N Sang Sees Yushin Okami As ‘Problematic’
A fan of Yushin Okami for a long time, it comes as no surprise that Aung La N Sang is quick to sing his opponent’s praises.
The Japanese veteran has used his powerful wrestling and suffocating top control to great effect in his 20-year MMA career, something which the Myanmar sports hero has struggled with in his recent World Title losses to Reinier de Ridder and his trilogy defeat to Vitaly Bigdash.
Aung La N Sang fully expects “Thunder” to lean heavily on those attributes when they meet at ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Search
“The Burmese Python” said:
“Stylistically, I think he’s problematic for me. He’s longer and he has more range as a grappler, and that’s the kind of fight that I have problems with. And so this is stylistically, for him, a good matchup, and for me, I feel like it’s a good matchup too. I’ve been working on my weaknesses, and I think this fight is going to be a great fight for me to rebound and be on the right path in my attempt to get my [middleweight] title back.”
Bolstering his ground game has been a major focus for the former two-division ONE World Champion.
More than just wanting to beat the man in front of him, “The Burmese Python” is tightening his grappling skills in an effort to become as well-rounded and dangerous as possible.
Aung La N Sang said:
“To become the best version of myself – and knowing that the best version of myself on any given day can beat anybody in the world – is what excites me and what motivates me to get better and to work on my weaknesses. And everyone has weaknesses. There’s no fighter that has no weaknesses. So for me, it’s something to make me a better fighter.”
But ultimately, when Aung La N Sang stands face-to-face with one of his longtime idols in the Circle on November 19, he plans to showcase that best version of himself and won’t hold anything back.
“I’m going to look to break him. As soon as we touch gloves, I’m going to look to break him.”