Nsang-Ngalani fight heats up in Yangon as One Championship steps in to douse social media fires
Organisers dismiss fears the Cameroon-born Hongkonger will pull out of fight because of illness amid threats from Aung La Nsang’s supporters
One Championship world middleweight champion Aung La Nsang has issued an impassioned plea for calm after threats were aimed at Hong Kong’s Alain Ngalani before their bout here in Yangon on Friday night.
The Burmese star said his followers should “leave us to do the hurting in the cage”.
“I hope no one is taking this to the extreme,” said Nsang. “It’s a sport. Alain is a working man, an athlete, and we need to respect that and respect him.”
Myanmar’s first-ever world mixed martial arts champion, Nsang’s rise from the ranks of the unknowns has captured hearts across this nation of around 53 million people.
Sources close to organisers said fans of the Burmese Python had used social media to call the bout “unfair” given the weight difference between the pair, and had directly threatened Ngalani should things not go the way of their hero, or should Nsang get hurt.
Ngalani, meanwhile, was busy attending his official pre-fight medical tests on Tuesday while also dealing with a flu bug.
By late in the day rumours had spread in Yangon – again via social media – that the Cameroon-born Hongkonger had pulled out of the fight because of ill health but those fears were quickly dismissed by One Championship officials.
If nothing else it has added drama to what already promises to be a wildly entertaining night, given the passion fans have for the local hero, Nsang’s own power, and the explosive nature of the trademarked Ngalani fight plan.
Hundreds of locals packed a downtown mall on Tuesday to see Nsang shadow box and work out with teammates here from his base at the Crazy 88 Brazilian jiu-jitsu club in Baltimore.
“I don’t see myself as a hero,” said the 32-year-old. “I just see myself as a regular working man. But it’s an honour to have that support and it just drives me to work even harder.
“Being able to do what I love every day is a blessing. There is absolutely no pressure now. I’ve won a world championship.
“Now it’s fun, and hard work. There’s no more pressure. Before I had 12 years of wins and losses and nothing to show for it. Now I have a world championship to show for it.”
Friday night’s clash at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium is being billed as a “David versus Goliath” bout with Nsang (20-10) usually weighing in at around 84 kgs while the 42-year-old Ngalani (4-3) usually tips the scales at around 104 kgs.
Ngalani is a four-time Muay Thai world champion who likes to stand and deliver and Nsang said he fully expected his opponent to come out swinging with both fists and feet.
Last time out – when taking the middleweight belt from Russian warrior Vitaly Bigdash (9-1) – Nsang showed he could mix it with the best, landing a series of brutal blows in a first round that set him up for his unanimous decision.
Nsang said he was prepared to take what is coming from Ngalani and bide his time to pick him off.
“He’s a fast, explosive, super athletic heavyweight who moves like a lightweight,” said Nsang. “To prepare for this fight I have worked only with heavyweights. I’ve sparred round after round – eight straight rounds with four different heavyweights.
“So I am well prepared. I can take a lot of damage. But I am stronger and I know he’s going to give me an opening at some stage in the fight – and I’m going to take advantage.”