Vitaly Bigdash is heading into hostile territory. People in Myanmar are normally pretty friendly, but that can all change when you travel to a country to take on the hometown hero in a headlining title match.
On Friday night (local time) at ONE: Light of a Nation, the Russian will put his undefeated record and his middleweight title on the line against Aung La Nsang for the second time. The big difference is that this time around he is fighting in his opponent’s backyard.
Bigdash knows a second successive win over La Nsang won’t prove popular with the Yangon crowd, but he’s not overly concerned.
“I think the audience will not be supporting me, but it will have no negative impact on me. It is interesting to see a new country. My feeling is that everyone will be against me, but I am ready for this.”
The circumstances surrounding the first fight were somewhat different. The champion had initially been set to face Marcin Prachnio in Jakarta, but found himself with a new opponent when the Polish middleweight pulled out just a couple of weeks before the bout.
Instead, Bigdash found himself facing an out of shape and unprepared La Nsang. The fight went the full five rounds. It wasn’t close, but the Russian has plenty of respect for an opponent who stepped up at very late notice.
“We spoke a bit after the fight. He made a good impression on me. I know that he is a family man, he comes across as a humble guy. We live on different continents, but if the situation was different, I think we could be friends. This is sport. We are fighters in the cage, but we could be friends outside it. I have no problems with him.”
“I hope that now I win my fight with Aung La N Sang and then I can think about Ben Askren. The way he called me out sounded disrespectful. I got angry and now I cannot wait to meet Ben Askren in the cage.”
A battle between two undefeated champions would be a huge draw for ONE Championship. However, Bigdash must get through Friday’s title defense before it can even become a possibility and he’s confident of doing just that.
“I gave him a good beating but he managed to find courage to accept the fight again and agree to a rematch. I respect him for that (but) my preparation makes me certain of victory. I train well and it gives me physical strength and confidence in my ability to win.”
Prachnio is facing Gilberto Galvao next month in a bout which could determine the next middleweight contender. However, when asked about his ambitions for the remainder of the year Bigdash hinted he might have something else in mind.
“My immediate goal is to beat Aung La N Sang but the next one is a secret.”
Bigdash went five rounds with La Nsang in January, so he’s facing a familiar foe at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on Friday. If the Russian can register what would be a tenth straight career win then speculation about a fight with Askren will surely begin in earnest.
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