Brandon Vera is looking to lodge his own special accomplishment with ONE Championship. The ONE Heavyweight World Champion is challenging ONE Light Heavyweight, and Middleweight World Champion Aung La N Sang for his light heavyweight belt. The bout will take place later this year in Tokyo in the promotion’s second visit to Japan.
Aung La and Vera aren’t the first ONE Championship athletes to have two titles or dream of multi-division success.
Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen held two ONE World Titles and attempted to add a third. Nguyen had already knocked out Marat Gafurov and Eduard Folayang to win the ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Titles, respectively when he unsuccessfully challenged Bibiano Fernandes for his ONE Bantamweight World Title.
Most recently, ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan thwarted ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee‘s attempts to add her title to her mantle.
In a feat that perhaps trumps all of the aforementioned multi-divisional exploits, Stamp Fairtex is the current ONE Atomweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion. The 21-year-old Thai martial artist is said to be interested in tackling the mixed martial arts title next.
Vera and Aung La’s bout will be the latest in a long line of exciting and daring attempts by members of ONE Championship’s roster. Their match might become an instant classic or even the first bout in what becomes ONE’s next great trilogy.
Both men are known for their finishing prowess, thus striking power will not be at a shortage in this one. Aung La has been dominant ever since he joined ONE Championship. He has amassed a whopping 10-1 record with the organization and Vera isn’t far off. He hasn’t been as active, but he’s a perfect 4-0 with first-round finishes in each match.
With so much at stake, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape, and let’s also focus specifically on what Aung La must do to fight off Vera’s attempt to make history at his expense.
What Must Aung La Must Exploit?
Vera isn’t a big heavyweight. In fact, he has competed at light heavyweight earlier in his career. Because he and Aung La are around the same size, the Burmese Python cannot be too afraid to get inside to mix it up with Vera. While the heavyweight champion may have a size advantage once the two men climb into the ONE circle, it shouldn’t be so pronounced that Aung La is completely mismatched on the inside.
We might be surprised at how well Aung La can perform while in the clinch with Vera. These sequences might wind up being the deciding factor in the bout.
What Does Aung La Need to Avoid?
Vera is most dangerous early in the bout. Aung La and his team should be prepared for Vera to make a hard early charge. If Aung La can avoid taking night-changing shots, he’ll have a better chance the later the bout goes.
If there is anything Aung La has proven throughout his 11 matches with ONE Championship, it’s that he has good cardio. Not only has the two-division champion proven he can win a decision, but he has also shown he retains KO power late in his matches. His crushing fifth-round KO of Ken Hasegawa punctuated 2018’s Bout of the Year.
If Vera can survive an early onslaught, he might have another opportunity to make a late-round statement.
Look to Take Advantage of Early Recklessness
If Vera comes looking for an early finish, he may get careless. His chin isn’t impenetrable. In his seven losses, he has been stopped with strikes four times. Because of this, Aung La should be looking for counterpunching opportunities.
Aside from scoping openings for attacks, Aung La must also be sure to look to secure takedowns. He has a massive advantage over Vera if the battle goes to the ground. The sooner he can get the action to the canvas, the sooner Aung La can start to work on submissions, ground, and pound or simply zapping Vera’s energy.
Lee went hard after a finish over Xiong in their bout. When she was unable to get it in the fourth round, she was completely compromised, heading into the fifth and final round. Xiong took advantage and defended her title with a KO. If Aung La can do the same thing, he’ll keep his light heavyweight belt.
The Perfect Scenario for Aung La
Truthfully, Aung La can win in several ways. Ideally, he’d probably like to beat Vera at his own game, and that’s in a stand-up contest. At the end of the day, Aung La will take the successful title defense, however, it comes. Bet on him winning by second-round TKO if you’re looking for the most probable finish.