There are about a dozen fighters from Myanmar currently in the ranks of ONE Championship. Thanks to the success of Aung La Nsang, a country where MMA was nearly non-existent is going through an explosive growth spurt.
While the pioneers of any sport usually don’t see much spotlight for various reasons, these fighters are forced to grow in front of the whole world – and produce results.
It’s no exaggeration that the future of the MMA in Myanmar depends on the performance of the athletes today. Here are the top five fighters from Myanmar in ONE Championship.
Tial Thang – The Esteemed Protege
A protege of Aung La Nsang, many people are quietly expecting great things from him because of that association. He made his professional debut last year at ONE: Reign of Valor and is relatively new to the fight game as a whole.
But he is showing promise, as he’s currently undefeated with a 2-0 record. He’s beaten Khun Khmer boxer Rin Saroth and ONE Warrior Series alumnus Woon Gyeom Kim.
The greatest asset Tial has going for him is that he’s training with the absolute best. Right now, Tial is with Sanford MMA, formerly known as Hard Knocks 365, and basically rubs shoulders with the pinnacle of the MMA world.
In addition to Aung La and Martin Nguyen, the team includes Bellator Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader, UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold, and former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler, to name a few.
In a recent interview with Aung La Nsang, he mentioned Tial specifically as someone to watch out for. If you ask us, it’s nearly impossible to be surrounded by that much talent and not make waves in the community.
Ye Thway Ne – Under The Radar Killer
A name many will not recognize, Ye Thway Ne’s MMA career looks better than many of his contemporaries with arguably bigger profiles.
After failing in his debut against then-undefeated prospect Pongsiri Mitsatit at ONE: Kingdom of Champions, Ye Thway came back with vengeance and hasn’t tasted defeat since.
All his wins have been against fellow fighters from Myanmar, including ONE Myanmar Flyweight Tournament Champion Saw Min Min. In fact, he’s become something of a tormentor to Min Min.
Not only is Ye Thway the only one to give Min Min the taste of defeat in the ONE Circle, but he also denied him victory in the ring when they met at World Lethwei Championship: Fearless Tigers.
Ye Thway is definitely due for a step-up in competition to see where he actually stands against his international peers.
Tha Pyay Nyo – Undefeated Savant
A true pioneer of MMA, Tha Pyay Nyo is among the first stars the country had in MMA. He was among the first twelve fighters from Myanmar who participated in the first card the promotion held in Yangon at ONE: Kingdom of Warriors.
His name rose above all others when he became the first ONE Myanmar Featherweight Tournament Champion. A Golden Belt Lethwei veteran, he beat other formidable Lethwei fighters on his way to the top.
These include Hlit Hlit Lay and Myo Man Thit, both of whom seemingly retired from international competition after their fight. Both fights also ended via knockout in the first round.
But Tha didn’t stop there, as he pursued more wins with ONE and MMA. He fought two more times in the promotion, keeping to his knockout ways.
At ONE: Union of Warriors, Tha knocked out Kyal Sin Phyo and at ONE: Light of a Nation he finished Htet Aung Oo. This brings his MMA record to a clean 4-0
Tha seems to have an unexpected talent for MMA, but he has a few asterisks attached to his MMA career. Similar to Ye Thway Ne, all his victories were over fellow fighters from Myanmar. He is yet to be tested against international competition.
In addition, Tha’s last fight in the ONE circle was in 2017. Thanks to the athlete sharing agreement between ONE and World Lethwei Championship, Tha has been able to compete four times in the WLC ring.
It’s completely possible that Tha chooses to stay with the WLC, foregoing the gains he’s made with ONE. Hopefully, this isn’t the case and we get to see his record tested against better competition in the future.
Phoe Thaw – Bushido Spirit
Bushido is arguably the brightest young star in Myanmar’s MMA scene. For three years, Phoe Thaw was an unstoppable knockout machine that was on track to be the double act to Aung La Nsang.
Phoe had six fights from 2015-2018 and only one of them went beyond the first round. Unlike most of the other fighters on this list, Phoe has already been tested against international competition.
With the exception of Keanu Subba and Chang Min Yoon, Phoe has proven himself a capable martial artist. He only needs to plug the obvious holes in his ground game that serve as his Achilles’ heel.
Competing in the Featherweight division, he definitely has the tools to make it further up the rankings. His reach and deceptive power being his most dangerous weapons.
He’s already busy calling out the two fighters that have defeated him to a rematch in order to get back to his winning ways. Only time will tell if he learned anything from those two losses.
Aung La Nsang – Immortal Hero
Is there really anyone else that can be number one?
Aung La is literally the only reason why MMA in Myanmar is growing so rapidly. He’s also one of the main catalysts to why the World Lethwei Championship even exists.
Aung La has been fighting in MMA since 2005 and began fighting for ONE since 2014. In all that time with the promotion, The Burmese Python has only tasted defeat once, a feat that did not come easily.
He has defeated Champions, he’s defeated fighters competing in much bigger weight classes, he’s defeated fighters that have come from the apex of the MMA world.
Aung La has earned every shred of praise and recognition he’s getting right now through blood and audacity. But even now, we can argue that he’s still not getting his due.
With all the recent talk of Christian Lee and Xiong Jing Nan going over to the UFC and fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov and Zhang Weili respectively, ONE seems to forget one of the guys that can actually give the UFC a run for their money.
The fact is, Aung La is a beast and the rest of the world needs to take a better look at him.
Check out the rest of Aung La’s story here.
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