Middleweight title contender Marcin Prachnio has withdrawn from his upcoming bout due to injury, ONE Championship announced yesterday, less than two weeks before the Polish fighter was scheduled to contest the ONE Middleweight World Championship against defending champion Vitaly Bigdash.
Stepping in to replace him is none other than Myanmar’s Aung La Nsang, who will challenge the undefeated Bigdash’s belt for the first time in the main event of ONE: Quest for Power in Jakarta on January 14.
“While it is unfortunate that Marcin Prachnio has fallen to injury, fans of the ‘Burmese Python’ have every reason to be excited,” said ONE Championship CEO Victor Cui.
“[Aung La Nsang] has definitely earned a shot at ONE Championship gold with his spectacular performances as of late,” he added.
The Jakarta match-up is a long-awaited realization for the US-based Aung La Nsang (19-9-0, 1NC), who has racked up four straight ONE victories, including two submissions and one knockout, all the while keeping his eye on Bigdash’s belt.
“Who's coming with me? I will be fighting in less than two weeks in Jakarta, Indonesia. Come watch me if you can”, Aung La wrote on his Facebook page.
Bigdash (8-0) captured the middleweight title at ONE: Tigers of Asia in a blockbuster bout that saw him defeat Kazakh champion Igor “Lionheart” Svirid less than a minute into the second round by technical knockout in October 2015.
Aung La Nsang first called out Bigdash, as well as Roger Gracie of the famed Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu clan, just five months later, following his submission of Mohamed Ali in his victorious Yangon homecoming fight at ONE: Union of Warriors on March 18, 2016.
But a training injury sidelined Bigdash from his first scheduled defence, an all-Russian title bout against Aleksei Butorin in Singapore on May 6. The match-up replaced by a light-heavyweight championship bout that saw the BJJ scion Gracie submit Poland’s previously-undefeated Michal Pasternak.
Aung La Nsang then stepped in to face Butorin on July 2, 2016 at Hefei Olympic Sport Center, Anhui, China, in what was heralded as a “title-predictor” to anoint Bigdash’s next challenger. The “Burmese Python”, displaying his formidable grappling skills, dispatched the Russian muay thai practitioner with an arm triangle submission in the second round.
Aung La Nsang returned to Yangon this past October for his toughest ONE bout to date, a full three-round brawl that saw him trade grapples and blows with a bloodied Pasternak, and employ a deft butterfly guard to evade a ground-and-pound in the waning seconds of the second round. A victory by unanimous decision gave Aung La Nsang all the argument he needed for a shot at the middleweight title that he’s coveted since his ONE debut in March, 2014.
“Myanmar wants that fight. Bigdash, I want your belt!” Aung La Nsang called out to a crowd of more than 6000 at Thuwunna Stadium on October 7.
When the two go head-to-head in Jakarta, it won’t just be Aung La Nsang’s first shot at a world title, but also Bigdash’s first defence of the belt in 15 months and his first chance to cement his position as ONE’s reigning middleweight champion. But will he be able to put a stop to the “Burmese Python's” meteoric mixed martial arts rise?
Two additional fights have been added to the event: Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev (Turkey) is set to take on Georgi Stoyanov (Bulgaria), while light heavyweight Igor Subora (Ukraine) will face and Sherif Mohamed (Egypt).
In the event’s downcard fights, Kazunori Yokota of Japan will face Martin Nguyen (Australia) and Anthony Engelen (Netherlands) will see AJ Lias Mansor (Malaysia) in featherweight clashes, Vincent Latoel (Netherlands) faces Vaughn Donayre (Philippines) in a lightweight fight, Indonesia’s Sunoto faces Cambodia’s Chan Heng, Stefer Rahardian (Indonesia) faces Jerome S Paye (USA), and Adrian Matheis (Indonesia) faces Rene Catalan (Philippines).