Aung La Nsang is not currently a champion. It is an unfamiliar state of affairs for the 36 year old who had held at least one ONE Championship title since 2017 until his rematch loss to Reinier de Ridder.

It is a situation the Burmese middleweight is looking to urgently redress. He faces Leandro Ataides at ONE: ‘Battleground’ next Friday and knows he needs to win in order to keep that title dream alive,

“It’s a make-or-break battle for me but I know the work that I’ve been putting in, and I’m confident in my team. They’ve trained me good, and I’m very confident that I’ll come out on top in this bout.”

Unfamiliar position

The last time La Nsang experienced back to back defeats was 2012. It is an unfamiliar position for the Burmese star to be in but he is determined to learn from the two losses to de Ridder,

“It is sad and depressing, but you got to analyze how the match went and analyze how you can improve and grow, My mindset is more of a growth mindset, so I really had to work on the things in the match that didn’t go well. It’s a learning experience for me, and it’s fine. As depressing as it is, as sad as it is, I take it as a lesson in life.”

La Nsang was unable to prevent de Ridder from taking him down at the start of nearly every round. While he did manage to go the distance in the rematch the former two division champion was unable to keep the fight standing for any length of time.

Little details

He faces another grappler in Singapore this week. Ataides is a BJJ black belt but La Nsang says he is more focused on ensuring he is at his best than worrying about where his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses lie,

“I focus on improving in my bad positions, focus on making sure I fight through every bad position, and just focus on the little details of where the head position is and implement my game plan instead of being worried about somebody else’s game plan and somebody else’s strengths,” he says.

Ataides went the distance with de Ridder last year but it was a close contest and the decision could have gone either way. The Brazilian scored several knockouts at the start of his ONE Championship career but La Nsang does not sound too concerned about his opponent’s striking prowess,

“Ataides has some holes in his striking. I think he’s very, very head-on in his wrestling and grappling as well, and I tend to do better with people like that.”

Wrestling battle

Both men are coming off decision losses to de Ridder. Ataides decided to head to Holland in order to train with the Dutchman but La Nsang sounds skeptical about how much difference this will make,

“Good for him. Maybe (he) will tell you the secret to beating me. Maybe he’ll teach you how to do a front kick and double-leg me.”

While La Nsang was unable to prevent de Ridder from taking him down he doesn’t foresee Ataides enjoying the same sort of success in the wrestling battles,

“I believe I do better on the feet, and I think I can negate his grappling and his wrestling,” he said.

No doubt

If he can prevent the Brazilian from taking him down La Nsang is confident he will be able to score the sixth KO of his ONE Championship career,

“I see this bout being won on the feet. I see this bout being won with my movement and my speed. I see this bout being done with a knockout.”

La Nsang actually came up short in his first middleweight title shot, a short notice fight with Vitaly Bigdash. He beat the Russian in the rematch and held the belt for over three years until de Ridder snatched it from his grasp.

Having overcome that sort of adversity before La Nsang is adamant he can do it again,

“I don’t have a doubt in my mind that I’m going to get my middleweight belt back. I’ve done it once, and I’ll do it again. I’ll get my belt back.”