Aung La N Sang and the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium will forever be linked by some of the most memorable moments in ONE Championship history.
Myanmar’s first-ever sporting world champion claimed his ONE Middleweight World Title with his thrilling win over Vitaly Bigdash at the Yangon venue.
He also added to his legend by winning the ONE Light-Heavyweight World Title in the same place with a stunning head-kick knockout of Alexandre Machado.
On Friday, 29 June, he returns to his spiritual home to put his ONE Middleweight Title on the line as he faces Japan’s Ken Hasegawa at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR.
Aung La N Sang says he’s excited to return to the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium and experience the electric atmosphere generated by his legion of fans.
“Myanmar people have always had a big passion for combat sports, and having one of their own compete at such a high level excites them and makes them happy,” he says.
“The place becomes electric, and you cannot contain it in one stadium. That is why the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium is such a lively place and has a lot of energy.”
Interestingly, Aung La N Sang’s history with the arena dates back to long before his professional mixed martial arts career.
“I used to live a few blocks from there. I would actually walk, or jog, over there,” he explains.
“There were not many gyms around at the time, so I went to the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium because they had a weightlifting place. I got a membership there and worked out.
“Never in a million years would I ever think that it was possible [to headline a show there]. I could not even dream that it was possible.”
“The Burmese Python” started his MMA career in the United States after he moved there to study Agriculture Science at Andrews University in Michigan back in 2003.
He made his MMA debut in 2005, but he wouldn’t compete in the country of his birth until his second bout with ONE Championship in 2016, at ONE: UNION OF WARRIORS.
“A lot of old feelings came back. It was very cool and very nostalgic,” he said, thinking back to his Thuwunna debut.
“The stadium was a lot smaller than I had imagined. When I was a kid, I thought it was humongous. I mean, it is still pretty big, but it is different now. It was crazy, and it was emotional.”
He claimed a first-round submission win that night, as he guillotined Egypt’s Mohamed Ali, and began a remarkable run of form at the arena that continues to this day.
Wins over Michal Pasternak, Bigdash, Alain Ngalani and Machado took his unbeaten streak at the Yangon venue to five bouts.
Now he’s bidding for a sixth in a row when he faces former DEEP Openweight World Champion Hasegawa in a ONE Middleweight Title defence.
“Winning and making the crowd happy [in the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium] is the best experience,” he says.
He’ll be hoping to enjoy another of those experiences at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR on Friday, 29 July.