Over the past few years, “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang has already emerged as a prominent hero in his home country of Myanmar through his success in ONE Championship.
His status in the nation then transformed dramatically when he defeated previously-unbeaten titleholder Vitaly Bigdash for the ONE Middleweight World Championship in the main event of ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION in Yangon, Myanmar in June 2017.
Aung La N Sang may be the first Myanmar-born world champion in the sport and the country’s most internationally-renowned martial artist, but the nation is producing several talents who are starting to follow in his massive footsteps.
Phoe “Bushido” Thaw could very well be the next superstar in Myanmar’s budding martial arts scene as he has already caught the attention of fellow countryman Aung La N Sang.
Thaw, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Dagon, has a Lethwei background and compiled an undefeated record of 3-0-2 in his country’s national striking discipline.
However, the 33-year-old Myanmar spitfire has expanded upon his formidable striking skills in recent years and has carried that success over to ONE Championship.
Ever since making his debut in July 2015, Thaw has ripped through the competition, demonstrating his crisp striking and an evolving grappling game, which has led the undefeated featherweight to four consecutive first-round stoppages.
Thaw’s shining moment was when he won back-to-back contests in October 2016 to capture the ONE Myanmar Featherweight Tournament 2016 Championship.
Holding an immaculate 5-0 professional record, Thaw hopes to continue his string of success as he is scheduled to clash with Cambodia’s Sor Sey at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD on 23 February.
“I completed extreme preparations and training for my upcoming bout. I am not just here to give everyone a good show, but I also want to honor Myanmar with a sweet victory. With my whole countrymen behind me, I believe that I can beat my opponent,” he said.
Although Thaw had a triumphant reception in his first five assignments as an athlete in ONE Championship, he is far from being satisfied.
“There are a lot of styles to learn in this sport. It is not just striking. An athlete in the sport should be versatile. That’s why I always like to have an upcoming fight because it enables me to improve my game,” he stated.
Already adept in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido in addition to vas repertoire in Lethwei and Karate, Thaw expects a tough encounter against his Cambodian opponent as it will be the first time that a foreign opponent will try to test his mettle.
“The last fights weren’t too much of a challenge because I was only facing Lethwei specialists, but in my upcoming bout, I’ll face a foreign fighter that is trained in a greater variety of styles. Their ground games are much better than most Myanmar fighters, and their Jiu-Jitsu skills are amazing. So I’ll need to adapt my striking strategy to match them,” he explained.
From training under a bridge in North Okkalapa to strutting his wares in front of a packed crowd at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, Thaw has rapidly ascended the ranks of Myanmar’s combat elite.
Like his compatriot Aung La N Sang, Thaw believes that he has a great responsibility to influence people throughout the nation using the power of martial arts.
“The change I can make is by doing the best I can in the cage, being a good ambassador, being a good human being, and leading by example,” he stressed. “Maybe this could bring all of Myanmar together — to have their ambassador, myself, competing for them.”