World Lethwei Championship Announces Major International Expansion

Currently based out of Myanmar, World Lethwei Championship has plans to expand in 2020, including a card in the United States.

World Lethwei Championship has some major plans for 2020, and that includes expansion into four different countries.

The promotion, founded in 2015 and based out of Myanmar, is working towards Cambodia, Thailand, Japan and the United States by the time we ring in 2021.

WLC reached a deal with UFC Fight Pass to air events in 2019, and recently held WLC 11: Battlebones from the Thein Pyu Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar. To date, all 11 events since 2017 have taken place in the home country for the promotion.

“Lethwei is kind of the ultimate striking martial art,” World Lethwei Championship president Gerald Ng told MMA Junkie in a recent interview. It might not be for everybody right now, but it will be eventually.”

World Lethwei champions have been crowned in four different weight classes led by Dave Leduc in the cruiserweight division. Naimjon Tuhtaboyev holds the middleweight title, Sasha Moisa the light middleweight belt and Antonio Faria the light welterweight championship.

Also, Saw Htoo Aung won the Myanmar National Title in 2018 in the light welterweight ranks.

Thutaboyev headlined the recent WLC 11 card this past January, claiming his title with a victory over Too Too via split decision.

“Because of the differences in the rules and because the sport has evolved over the years, the techniques involved are completely different,” Ng said. “Right now, a lot of lethwei gyms here teach completely different stuff that could actually work in MMA fights, it just hasn’t been used as prevalently as other sports, this whole arsenal of strikes that are waiting to be discovered.”

World Lethwei Championship Announces Major International Expansion

While no official dates have been set for the promotional expansion, plans are in place to begin the push outside of Myanmar.

“We have huge plans in 2020 to expand globally, beginning with Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, and we’re going to do our first show in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of this year,” Ng said. “We believe that there’s a legitimate position within the whole mainstream sports landscape for lethwei content.

“What we are going to do as we expand with more events and more shows internationally is get more recognizable names to compete in Lethwei. It’s really, really exciting times, and any major name that becomes a free agent right now, we are going to be going in there with an offer.

“People have become conditioned to MMA, and when you talk to an MMA fan now, you think that it’s so easily accepted. But it wasn’t like that 20 years ago, and that’s basically where we are at right now. We believe that we can go on a similar trajectory for lethwei.”

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