In just four short years, Dave Leduc has cemented his position as the “King of Lethwei”. This ancient Martial Art is the national sport of Myanmar. It’s the art of nine limbs and virtually anything goes. You can headbutt (the ninth limb), you can suplex, and, crucially, you fight bare-knuckle. The unmistakable 6’2 Canadian, who began his career fighting Muay Thai, opted to switch to Myanmar’s more brutal equivalent and has taken to it like a duck to water. The 28-year-old has produced famous performances against local Burmese legends like Too Too and Tun Tun Min during a meteoric rise and soon found himself with a regal collection of world title belts as well as a legion of new fans. His last encounter was arguably his masterpiece. In front of a packed crowd in the ancient Burmese city of Mandalay, Leduc unleashed four knock-downs to finish UFC alumni Seth Baczynski and clinch the inaugural World Lethwei Championship (WLC) cruiserweight title. The fight attracted millions of viewers worldwide and was a landmark moment for the sport, and its greatest champion. With WLC aired on UFC Fight Pass, Lethwei has begun to attract interest from a new, intrigued, international audience – and with the pandemic still largely in full flow, fans have been wondering when they’ll get to see Leduc in action again. “I’m itching for a fight,” Leduc told SCMP MMA. “I really want it and I’m training in the gym harder than ever. I’m knocking out guys and I’m training hard. I just really want a fight right now.” ‘Born in Myanmar in another life’, Canadian fighter turns Burmese hero Judging by its recently-released schedule, WLC intends to oblige him, with proposed shows in Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangkok, Tokyo and even the US next year. In terms of who he’ll face, Leduc has a few choice opponents in mind. “Cyrus Washington is campaigning for the rematch. This is unfinished business for me. I completely lacerated his face last time and he wants more? Perfect, let’s do it,” Leduc said. “There’s also Joe Schilling. I’m all for it. I think he’s also a friend of Joe Rogan’s so it would be interesting to see who Joe would cheer for. I saw his motto is, ‘You can’t stop crazy’ or something? Well maybe in kick-boxing when you have pillow gloves and a limited ruleset, but when you go in Lethwei you’ll really see what crazy is.” A middleweight champion in Glory, Schilling has won WBC world titles in Muay Thai and has put in some big performances in MMA and kick-boxing for Bellator. At 6’3 and with serious knockout power he would represent a unique challenge. One other potential match-up further down the line would see Leduc get the chance to claim another world title belt. Here, he would take on former Tiger Muay Thai teammate, Naimjon Tuhtaboyev who’s the WLC middleweight champ. “It’s a possibility,” Leduc said. “I respect Naimjon. We trained at Tiger, and he was a fierce training partner. They were good exchanges. But it’s going to be like all my other fights. He’s a very tough guy but I’d be taller than him, stronger than him. No one is better than me in the clinch. Let’s see him defend his belt first and then let’s sign the contract.” There is one more fascinating rumour that refuses to go away. Leduc has long been linked to a super fight against Muay Thai legend Buakaw Banchamek. It’s widely understood this would not be a bare-knuckle affair, and although the promoter of “The White Lotus” has strongly denied the rumours, Leduc insists the blockbuster fight is under negotiation – but said he has to remain tight-lipped for now.