Aung La Nsang Discusses COVID-19 Impact On ONE Championship
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the largest world crisis seen in recent times. Over nine million cases have been recorded across the globe and nearly half a million people have tragically passed as a consequence of the virus.
The outcome of the pandemic however, has not been limited only to healthcare-related issues but also crippled the economies of many countries as a result of the lockdown. The sports world has not been a stranger to the restrictive measures imposed by many governments, with most sports organisations having to put their activity on standby. ONE Championship has not held an event since February, when ONE: King Of The Jungle took place in Singapore.
Since then, the Asia-based organisation has been forced to take severe measures to cope with the lack of revenue, laying off twenty percent of its global workforce.
Current ONE Championship middleweight and light heavyweight champion Aung La Nsang, spoke to the South China Morning Post about the devastating measures the company was forced to take.
“Oh, for sure, it hurts my heart right now to think about the people that were let go. And they’re pretty much trimming down so they can get through this time. It’s a shame, but that’s the nature of a lockdown, that’s the nature of this pandemic. You have nobody working. How are you supposed to make any money? It’s gonna hit the small businesses really hard. It hit us hard, but we’ll get over it,” Nsang stated.
“ONE Championship is making the cuts, but they also got big financial backing as well, so this just means they’re trimming down for the right time to expand big again, and I hope it’s sooner rather than later. When they expand again they’re gonna fill those roles again. Right now it’s not possible, it doesn’t make sense. We had zero events in the last three or four months. So it’s bound to happen. It is very sad, super sad.”
Nsang’s last outing took place last October against heavyweight champion Brandon Vera at ONE: Century, in which he obtained a TKO victory in the second round to defend his light heavyweight title. Now, after several months of inactivity, ‘The Burmese Python’ admits to missing the action more than ever.
“I was just thinking, ‘man, how much I miss a fight week, an event week’,” said Nsang. “I miss the whole process of getting my mind ready, the process of walking out and competing for the fans. I miss that feeling a lot. Hopefully sooner rather than later we open everything back up.”
The two division ONE champion assures his fans that he’s taken time to analyse the most intricate aspects of MMA during his inactivity. Nsang believes in the importance of learning from fighters in other weight classes, as well as paying attention to the mental side of the sport.
“I love studying the game, things I need to work on, and just new things that other people can pull off during the high level competition,” Nsang said. “Yeah, watching the lighter weight classes, because I think they’re more technical and a little bit more exciting.
“Or even just watching the body language and the actions during the hard matches, how they react when things are going good and when things are going bad, the mental side as well, studying everything.”
Aung La Nsang maintains that he’s staying sharp during this period of inactivity and vows to be training better than ever. Being part of one of the most competitive teams in the world, Sanford MMA, the 35-year-old Myanmar-born fighter is no stranger to quality training camps.
Regarding a possible trilogy fight with Vitaly Bigdash — which was originally scheduled for April of this year — Nsang declares to still be pursuing the middleweight title defence.
“It’s gonna be good, I feel like I’ve improved a lot in my skill sets,” he said. “I’m staying very ready. I’m scared because of my first two matches with him, but I believe I’ve improved and I wanna stay sharp and get ready. People that are most prepared are the most successful. I wanna put myself in that position.
“There are so many skill sets that I need to improve. That’s why I watch a lot of different competitions, because I can learn where I need to improve. Just these last few weeks, training hard with Anthony ‘Rumble’ [Johnson], Tyrone Spong … man, you guys are in for something better in the next few fights, for sure.”
With Nsang seemingly better than ever, ONE Championship fans are certain to have something to look forward to when MMA organisations resume events.
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly been one of the most impactful global tragedies of recent times; millions of people around the world have been victims of health repercussions or loss of employment. With the sports world gradually returning to normal in the upcoming weeks, we can only hope that athletic organisations get back to action for the sake of the athletes and the portion of the global economy they represent.
How do you think Aung La Nsang will fare against Vitaly Bigdash in a post-lockdown trilogy fight?