Former two-division ONE world champion Aung La N Sang knows a thing or two about elite mixed martial arts competition.
On Friday, N Sang will be watching very closely as his good friend and training partner, former four-time ONE featherweight world champion Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen (14-5), returns against Russian knockout artist Ilya Freymanov (10-2) at ONE on Prime Video 2.
After suffering back-to-back losses in 2020 and 2021, Nguyen – currently ONE's No. 3-ranked featherweight contender – got back into the win column with a third-round TKO of European star Kirill Gorobets at "ONE: Lights Out" in March.
The Vietnamese-Australian dynamo is heralded for his striking repertoire and dramatic knockout power, and he could very well use those attributes to get his second consecutive victory and inch closer toward another ONE featherweight world title shot on Friday night.
In fact, N Sang believes that his Kill Cliff FC teammate's punching power will be the difference maker at ONE on Prime Video 2.
"He's working hard on his boxing, and his power is going to be an issue for Freymanov," the Myanmar star said.
"I feel like Freymanov isn't that powerful. Freymanov's movement is great. He's a well-rounded fighter, but I feel like – and I might be wrong – but I feel like he's a very similar version of his last opponent, Gorobets."
Indeed, Nguyen battered Gorobets with punishing blows to the body and head for over 10 minutes before finally securing the TKO in a crushing display of striking superiority.
It was "The Situ-Asian's" tenth knockout finish across 14 career victories, and a reminder to the rest of the division that the former champ hasn't gone anywhere.
N Sang is predicting a similar outcome against Freymanov.
"If anything, Gorobets might be a little bit better than Freymanov, but a very similar style fighter," N Sang said.
"You know, the guy has KO power, but I don't think he's as powerful as Martin is. And I know Martin's been working very hard on his boxing and his jiu-jitsu, as well. So, I got to lean toward my friend to win this fight."
As Nguyen works his way back to the ONE featherweight world title he once held, he is surely eyeing a potential showdown with the division's reigning king, Tang Kai, who defeated Thanh Le in August to capture the belt.
In an uncharacteristically patient approach, the Chinese knockout artist out-pointed Le throughout the bout's 25-minute duration.
Despite that performance, N Sang sees the new world champion as a "hothead" and believes that attitude would be his undoing in a world title fight against Nguyen, recognizing that his buddy excels in firefights against recklessly aggressive opponents.
"This would be the perfect scenario for him. And stylistically, I think he matches up well against Tang Kai," N Sang said.
"Tang Kai is a little bit more offensive than other fighters, except in this last fight. He was very methodical. I would say he's like a hothead, like he comes in pretty hard. I think, stylistically, it would be a good match for Martin."