ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion Aung La N Sang last fought at ONE: A New Era on March 31 Tokyo, Japan, when he defended his middleweight strap with a knockout of Ken Hasegawa. On that same night, we witnessed the ONE Championship debuts of two former UFC titleholders in Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson.
The former UFC and Bellator champ Alvarez debuted first, and contrary to the widespread expectation among Western fans, he was stopped in the first round by his ferocious opponent Timofey Nastyukhin.
The former UFC flyweight champ Johnson took to the ONE cage next. While he ultimately earned a victory with a second-round guillotine choke, it did not come easily, as his foe Yuya Wakamatsu put up a very commendable fight until the finish materialized.
Speaking to BJPenn.com, Aung La N Sang discussed the ONE Championship debuts of Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson. He believes that their fights helped legitimize the talent of the ONE Championship roster in the eyes of many Western fans.
Having long trained with many top UFC and Bellator stars at Hardknocks 365 in Florida, of course, Aung La has never doubted that he and the other stars of ONE Championship possess world class ability.
“It’d be stupid to think they’re not [dangerous],” Aung La said of his fellow ONE Championship athletes. “It’s MMA. If you train every day, and you work hard at it, you’re going to be just as good.
“It makes no sense that, if I’m in the room with UFC champions, UFC fighters, Bellator champions, Bellator fighters, that I wouldn’t be as good as them,” he continued. “It makes no sense to me. I’m in the same room, working just as hard, in my opinion sometimes training harder. If I’m in the same room as them, why wouldn’t I be as good as them? It makes no sense.
“But I am glad that it looked very competitive [in Alvarez and Johnson’s debuts], and that people got to witness the talent pool. But it baffled me that the Western audience thinks they’re so educated [on MMA], but they’re not really that educated. It’s crazy.”
What do you think of these comments from Aung La N Sang?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/17/2019.