Agilan “Alligator” Thani began his year with a performance to remember. He turned out a near-flawless effort, and still learned a valuable lesson in the process.
He welcomed the Indian striker to the Axiata Arena in his native Kuala Lumpur in front of a partisan crowd, and the match played out just as he had hoped.
“That was a good fight for me, because I performed everything that I wanted to,” the 22-year-old grappler says.
“My training camp went perfectly. I had no injuries, and my game plan was perfect on that night.”
Thani’s preparation for the welterweight clash at Monarchy MMA was smooth, but the Malaysian did not want to be overconfident in a contest he was a big favorite to win in front of his hometown fans.
“I was a little bit nervous facing him because he was a big underdog, but he could still catch me with a lucky punch,” he admits.
“I worried about that a lot before the bout. But when it started, everything just slowed down, and after the first two minutes, I did not even think about it.”
Following a feeling-out process, the pair began to engage, and it was Thani’s thudding low kicks that did the most damage against the Indian champion.
The Kuala Lumpur juggernaut held his own in the stand-up, but halfway into the opening stanza, he caught a kick from Chaubey and countered with a powerful takedown.
Now, they were in Thani’s world, and he was unforgiving.
He came close to finishing the contest with ground and pound, but the sound of the bell saved the SFL Welterweight Champion.
Although the Malaysian recalls his dominance, he admits there is always room for improvement. He says his approach was far from perfect, and acknowledges there are ways he can improve when he is in the same position again.
“Sometimes when I rush too much to finish, I end up dragging the fight too long,” he explains.
“That has been one thing I have learned, and it is a bad habit which could put me in a bad position one day.”
Thani rained downed furious punches and elbows from the mount in search of a quick stoppage, but a moment of thought to place and direct his shots better may have brought an end to the bout in round one.
He was composed and more methodical when he came out for the second stanza.
Chaubey moved forward with powerful strikes, looking for the one-punch knockout. Thani, however, dodged them, and waited for the right opportunity to attack.
As soon as the Indian was near the cage, “Alligator” closed the distance with a striking combination, scooped him up for a single-leg takedown, and slammed him to the mat. He immediately landed in side control, locked in an Americana, and torqued the arm to force the tap just 64 seconds into round two.
“The Americana and kimura are two of my favorite submissions, along with the guillotine and rear-naked choke,” he says, though he was surprised to pick up that finish after how the opening frame had progressed.
“I thought I would mount him again and he would give me his back from the punches, but he gave me his arm, so I took the finish.”
It was the Monarchy MMA product’s second straight victory, which cemented his status as one of the welterweight division’s most dangerous men.
The bout also allowed him to showcase the improvements he continues to make in the stand-up game, as he connected with hard shots against an undefeated kickboxing specialist.
Thani produced a complete performance from start to finish, and learned that if he can show a little more patience, he could be even more dominant in the future.