Dave Leduc has signed with World Lethwei Championship (WLC).
“The King of Lethwei” today announced that he will be fighting under the WLC banner, which now streams live on UFC Fight Pass.
Leduc, who currently reigns as the openweight Lethwei World Champion, has been at the top of the sport ever since defeating Tun Tun Min in December 2016. The Canadian fighter was awarded the Golden Belt and became the first non-Burmese athlete to hold the title.
After making his sixth successful consecutive title defense in August last year, Leduc was challenged to a rematch with Tun Tun Min. In a fight that is now regarded as the biggest fight in Lethwei history, Leduc controlled most aspects of the match but couldn’t finish his opponent inside the five-round limit. With the match ending as a draw, Leduc has now defended his title seven times and been the reigning champion for over three years.
His exciting fighting style will now be aired on UFC Fight Pass for the world to see.
Dave Leduc wants “all the belts”
Leduc hasn’t always been on the best of terms with WLC, however.
The 27-year-old has been extremely passionate in his defense of the purity and beauty of Lethwei, one of the very few remaining untouched ancient combat sports. Leduc has at times challenged the WLC’s decision to implement scoring in Lethwei bouts, suggesting that it was harming the sport.
In an interview with John Hyon Ko in March 2018, Leduc first verbalized his position against WLC.
“You shouldn’t touch traditions like this,” Leduc stated. “If the two guys are standing up at the end of a fight, it’s a draw.
“I’m very passionate about this. You cannot take away the tradition of this, it’s too beautiful, and it’s too unique. That’s what makes it different and that’s what makes it so brutal.”
Speaking to The Body Lock today, Leduc explained his decision to sign with World Lethwei Championship and shared that the previous dispute mostly boiled down to Leduc being misinformed about the origins of point scoring in Lethwei bouts.
“Fans have given me the title of protector and ambassador of Myanmar Lethwei, and it’s no secret that I have had real concerns at the beginning about the modern ruleset of WLC. Looking back I think it was more a territorial feud, and I was protecting my territory. My main concern was about the modern rules set which I understand more now. As we know, many Lethwei promotions use the KO only system of Lethwei, with the fight being declared a draw in the absence of a knockout, but in the case of a platform like UFC Fight Pass, we need to have a winner.”
“After many discussions with Lethwei experts, I learned that U Sai Zaw Zaw (Lethwei Nation, H&S Promotion), a very respected promoter by the purists also uses the point system for his yearly Golden Belt tournament in order to have a clear winner. Many people, including me, were misinformed about who was behind the scoring system. I was misinformed thinking WLC were the ones who invented it. Point system is still being used by other promoters.
“I also found that former Openweight Lethwei Champion Lone Chaw had won his title from Shwe War Tun by decision in 2004. Which was kind of a shocking find for me, because I fought in KO only system to win my Openweight Golden Belt. After learning this, and the fact that I always respected the quality of shows the WLC was putting, there was no reasons anymore for me to be against WLC’s efforts in promoting Lethwei.”
Now, having cleared the air with World Lethwei Championship, Leduc is completely focused on adding another belt to his collection.
“I am undefeated In Air KBZ Championship, MLWC (Myanmar Lethwei World Championship) and ILFJ (International Lethwei Federation Japan). I am very proud to have won these championship belts. But there’s one more I was eying for a while, the WLC belt. My focus is on WLC belt.”
“I want all the belts.”
Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.