Myanmar’s Hero Aung La N Sang
successfully defended his ONE
Championship middleweight title
by beating Japan's big and very
strong fighter Ken Hasegawa at
the ONE: Spirit Of A Warrior fight
last night at Thuwunna Indoor
Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
Aung La scored a near-flawless victory by relying on his well-rounded skills and support from the hometown crowd in the first defence of his middleweight world title, while the Japanese warrior leaned on his judo skills to try and dethrone the Myanmar hero in his promotional debut.
Both men dug deep and treated the crowd to a firecracker matchup, which went the full five rounds. Hasegawa found early success with his left hand in Round 1 as Aung La landed a solid counter, but no significant offense had happened by midround.
The first meaningful offense came from Aung La later in the first round in the form of a powerful punch, but Hasegawa wasn’t deterred.
A head kick attempt by Aung La resulted in Hasegawa falling to the floor. Aung La was eager to capitalize, but the Japanese fighter recovered in time and quickly came to his feet. Hasegawa avoided further trouble until the bell rang.
Aung La started off the second round with heavier blows, but Hasegawa held his own with straight punches – particularly with his right hand.
The two engaged in short exchanges, throwing no more than three-strike combos in each, and neither man showed any desire to take the fight elsewhere.
A mis-timed kick, paired with well placed punch by Hasegawa, had Aung La stumbling to the ground.
He got back up, though, and soon the two were back engaging in short-distance exchanges.
Aung La seemed to slow down as Round 2 wore on, landing mostly ineffective kicks, as Hasegawa backed him up with punches. Hasegawa eventually shot for a takedown but was stuffed, and the two went right back to trading strikes in the center of the cage.
The two quickly resumed action in Round 3. Hasegawa did most of the backing up, but while he did have the volume advantage, Aung La threw punches with power in his sparse counters. With 30 seconds left in the round, champion and challenger sported swollen eyes and seemingly heavy arms, but they kept throwing.
Hasegawa shot for a takedown early in Round 4, but Aung La easily defended, stuffing the attempt and getting back up. Aung La was able to find some solid offense and seemed in control of Hasegawa on the ground, but the challenger was able to reverse and get the fight back on its feet. The two proceeded to throw punches, but Aung La was the only one who seemed even slightly concerned with keeping his hands up.
As the fourth round ended, Hasegawa looked bloodied, swollen, and exhausted. But he kept going.
Aung La’s spinning back elbow was the early highlight of Round 5, but it was ultimately more flashy than it was effective. Again, the two exhausted men were trading sloppy punches, before Aung La was able to take Hasegawa down. The challenger was able to go back to the feet once more, but the scenario for him there hadn’t changed that much from the earlier rounds. It took Aung La almost five entire rounds and some serious persistence, but it happened: He was finally able to render a wobbly, stumbling Hasegawa unable to continue as he face-planted onto the mat. The crowd at Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon roared their approval for their hero as an exhausted Aung La N Sang slowly raised his arms in victory.