World Lethwei Championship's August event could be the most notable yet for the Myanmar-based promotion.
Top-ranked Lethwei champion Dave Leduc is set to make his promotional debut against Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Seth Baczynski, with the latter competing in the sport for the first time. The two will contend for the organization's cruiserweight title at WLC: Art of Nine Limbs, in Mandalay, Myanmar, this August.
"I am going to the land of the king, and taking his crown with me," Baczynski told Sherdog. "Dave is the king of Lethwei, and I am so pumped to get this opportunity, and I am bringing the championship home. I have proven that I can knock out top opponents and this is no different. It's going to end with my arm raised and him on the mat."
Baczynski, 37, is a 13-year veteran of mixed martial arts, where he holds a record of 21-14 with 19 stoppage victories to his credit. He most recently competed for Legacy Fighting Alliance in February, where he lost by submission to Daniel Madrid at LFA 59. "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 11 alum last competed in the UFC in 2017, as a member of Team Garbrandt on the "Redemption" edition of the long-running series. He has split his last four bouts since losing in the opening round of the show to quarterfinalist Gilbert Smith.
WLC CEO Gerald Ng has confirmed Baczynski's contract is a multi-fight agreement. "We are ecstatic to get Seth Baczynski in WLC to be the opponent for Dave Leduc's debut," Ng told Sherdog. "This is going to be an epic main event."
Leduc, 27, is one of the top fighters in the sport and his addition to the WLC roster in March was a major coup for the organization. The Canadian has been a groundbreaker for foreign fighters competing in a sport that consists primarily of fighters from Myanmar. "The King of Lethwei" was the first foreign-born fighter to win a championship in the centuries-old martial art-turned-sport.
Like many fighters from outside of Myanmar, Leduc was unpopular during his early pursuits in the sport. However, he has become a national hero in the country due to his loyalty to the sport. "He's turned down big money offers from every other promotion out there to compete in Lethwei," Ng told Sherdog earlier this week. "People see that. He's basically fought every single Burmese fighter there is. He's beaten them all, and now he wants to represent Myanmar [and] the sport as he fights top guys from UFC, One Championship, Glory, any big promotion."
Ng's search for established names outside of the sport to face Leduc has been a priority since his signing. "Dave has overcome every single opponent he has faced in Lethwei. We are scouring the world to find world-class opponents for him," said Ng. "Baczynski has had "Fight of the Night" performances against some of the best fighters in the UFC. Notable wins over Neil Magny and Matt Brown. [He] will be the toughest test for Dave to date. Whoever wins this fight will be the toughest fighter in the world."
The promotion's eighth event, WLC: Karen Spirit, takes place this Sunday at the Chitthu Myaing Park in Hpa-An, Myanmar. The card's light middleweight headliner will see Soe Lin Oo face Burutlek. The event will be broadcast in North America on UFC Fight Pass.