Aung La N Sang Talks Political Pressure on Career, Thoughts on Verdict, and More

Aung La N Sang Talks Political Pressure on Career, Thoughts on Verdict, and More

Abdullah Ouazri|
November 16, 2022|

Former ONE Championship double champion Aung La N Sang sat down with us earlier this month for an interview. He is a legend in the MMA world and has done great things throughout his career not only as a fighter but as a human being and philanthropist. The respect he has earned is well deserved and is only a small reflection of his accomplishments. He takes on Japanese icon Yushin Okami at ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Petchtanong on November 19th in Singapore. We asked him about his thoughts on the matchup and his opponent:

"I've always been a fan of Yushin, you know. I've watched him in different promotions as well. When he was coming to ONE, he was one of the matchups that I'd been eyeballing." - Aung La reveals that he'd been wanting to face Okami for some time now, and is glad to have the opportunity.

Political Pressure

The influence of his country's politics on his career.

Aung La is a Kachin native and Myanmar hero. It's no understatement to say he's one of the largest ambassadors for his country worldwide, and even has statues erected of him. Of course, with this attention and responsibility comes a certain level of pressure, and we asked him if it was ever too much:

Is the political influence on your career purely motivation for you or is it at times a bit more pressure than needed?

"Haha, oh man. For sure at times [it's too much]. You know, I'm just a guy that's trying to provide for his family by doing what he loves. I don't have much political say. There was a situation in 2021 in my country when I am called on and I'm told to take a stand... like, it's just hard, and me not saying anything made a lot of them unhappy, and so, in some instances, it's more pressure [than needed.] And I'm a simple kind of guy. I'm a simple man, I like to just hang out with my family, and so in that case, it's a little bit of added pressure, but it's a position I'm put in and it's a role I have to learn to navigate and learn to make better decisions." - Aung La tells us the difficulties of being in the political spotlight in his country.

"The main thing is just to be a good person though. If you stick with what you believe, you can't go much wrong with it. If you stick with your core values and character and you don't deviate much from it, then I think you don't have much to worry about" - He encourages people to stay true to themselves in situations where others want them to be someone else, and tells that your passions and beliefs are what matter most.


Thoughts on Verdict

How it works, and what he thinks.

During the interview, we got Aung La's thoughts on Verdict as a scoring system and our goals to help change MMA scoring for the better. We explained how it works:

Tens of thousands of members of the Verdict Community score rounds using the 10-9 must system, however, rather than applying that directly to the Verdict Scorecard, we average the score, thus allowing much closer rounds to be given.

The Verdict Scorecard for Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez.
The Verdict Scorecard for Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez.

As you can see, Jingliang won each round, however, he was not rewarded with a score of 10, and Rodriguez a score of 9. The rounds were much closer than that, and the Verdict Scorecard reflects it, giving Jingliang a portion of the score, and Rodriguez the rest. This allows for close rounds, such as round 3, to be scored as close rounds, rewarding the winner with a winning score, but still reflecting how evenly contested it was, showing how well the loser fought.

The advantage of this system is that scoring errors are nearly impossible, and a perfect reflection of the fight is given each time. In the UFC's case, only 3 judges are in play and they cannot score a round any closer than 10-9, even though many are much closer. Collecting data from a larger number of scorecards also eliminates the possibility of the final score being incorrect based on 1 single judge misjudging the fight. This is a disadvantage of only having 3 judges scoring a fight.

I think it's a great system. . . 3 judges is way too little, I think 5 is a good number.
- Aung La agrees that having a larger number of scorecards to sample from would result in more fair judging, as opposed to the currently used system across major MMA promotions, and believes in the cause Verdict is working towards; better judging.

Wildlife Preservation

Aung La's beliefs on protecting life on this earth.

One thing that many fans don't know about Aung is that before fighting, he came to America and earned a degree studying agricultural sciences and wildlife. This lead him down the path of becoming a large advocate for the preservation of endangered species as well as for protecting animal habitats. He dived into his past and told us about his experiences and how they affect his values today:

"I worked at a dairy farm, and I think that's where a lot of my work ethic comes from. The thing with the farm, is the cows don't care if it's your birthday, or if it's Valentine's day or Christmas, you still have to milk them, you still have to feed them, you still have to take care of them, every single day." - He explains how his early days of animal care built a strong work ethic, regardless of what your life is like.

He further explained that he plans to continue to dedicate time to wildlife care and preservation after his MMA career is over:

Do you plan to continue your work as a wildlife advocate and remain in that spotlight even after you retire from MMA?

"For sure, I think wildlife preservation and sustainability on this earth are very important. Once that wildlife is gone, we can't get them back. My love for wildlife and exotic animals is what inspires me to help as much as I can to raise awareness and such. In America they do a very good job, they have a lot of preserves, they have a lot of national parks and I wish we could adopt that kind of behavior in other countries as well."

Do you have a particular stance or career that you'd like to take after MMA?

Aung La explained that he's not sure about that yet as he isn't certain about the direction he'd go as it pertains to the wildlife policies and political stances of his country. But he hopes that things turn out well and for the best.

"It's sad that a lot of [wildlife] is getting destroyed for unreasonable stuff, you know. Like, just for a few hundred dollars, it's crazy."


One Thing Fans Should Know About Him

What's one thing you want all fans to know about you and think of when they hear the name Aung La N Sang?

"I come from a small village in Myitkyina, Kachin State in Myanmar. It's been a long, crazy, rollercoaster ride for me to come from a small village to being here. To me, I'm just a regular man, but god gave me a purpose to be here, and to be interviewed by you. I'm very very passionate about what I do, and if you're passionate, you're persistent, and you keep going, you keep working, I think you can achieve a lot of big things in life. That's what my fans should know. In their own lives, if they put their passion, their heart, their soul, and their mind into it and doing whatever god put them on the earth to do, I'm very sure they're gonna succeed." - Aung La tells the one thing he'd like his fans to think of the most when they hear his name.

Remember to tune in for his next fight at ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Petchtanong on November 19th in Singapore!

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