Over the last few years, trash talk and bravado have become a huge part of the sport of mixed martial arts. The bushido spirit has been mostly pushed aside and replaced by constant posturing and saber-rattling.
Singapore’s ONE Championship is working on changing that. Where other promotions encourage trash talk and showmanship, ONE Championship preaches traditional martial arts values like respect, integrity and honor.
That’s just fine with Aung La N Sang, ONE Championship’s middleweight and light heavyweight title holder, and one of its biggest stars. He’s appreciated the value the promotion places on respect since he first joined the roster.
“So my first match in Jakarta, they took care of me really well, communication was good and I liked the fact that they show peace in martial arts more than make it more like a fight,” Aung La N Sang said on episode 100 of BJPENN.COM Radio. “I understand that it is a fight, but there’s more respect between the opponents. When we had our stare-down, we were told specifically not to be in each other’s faces, be respectful and all that. I kind of like that. It takes away the drama because, at the end of the day, we’re going to end up fighting anyway regardless. So take away the drama and it makes it like a … it makes it more about respect and more about integrity and more [about] martial arts, like eastern martial arts.”
“It really goes with my values,” he added. “I’m a fighter and all, but at the end of the day, when I leave this earth, I want to leave it a better place than when I came in.”
Aung La N Sang continued, explaining that he has respect for all of his opponents, so there’s really no sense in pretending otherwise.
“I don’t see my opponent as somebody I hate,” he said. “I see my opponent as somebody I respect.”
“My last opponent [Ken Hasegawa], he’s fighting because he needs to make a living,” he added. “So we’re both here trying to make a living, so we can both go in there, put on a great show and at the end of the day, we can shake hands with each other and we can have breakfast the next morning.”
Catch Aung La N Sang back in action at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS on October 26 in Yangon Myanmar, where he’ll take on the undefeated Mohammad Karaki.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/9/2018.