Alain “The Panther” Ngalani is of a rare breed.
The hulking kickboxer was supremely confident when he made the transition from the striking arts to the all-encompassing world of mixed martial arts.
Despite having no experience in the cage, the Hong Kong resident displayed no fear, and let loose with his most stunning, show-stealing technique in his mixed martial arts debut at ONE: CHAMPIONS & WARRIORS in September 2013.
After spending decades honing his craft as a world-class kickboxer and Muay Thai practitioner, Ngalani could have been excused for needing some time to adjust to the cage.
However, a new sport, a new promotion, and a massive crowd inside the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia, did nothing to shake his confidence.
“I was very excited and very relaxed at the same time,” the 43-year-old recalls.
“I did not know anybody at ONE at the time, and I had no pressure. I was just happy to come and have some fun. Because I was so relaxed, I think that put me in the best position.”
Ngalani’s composure is one of his biggest assets, and it allowed him to time his strike on Egypt’s Mahmoud Hassan to perfection.
“It went exactly as planned,” he continues.
“I was relaxed, and I was thinking about it clearly. I was not going to rush, but just wait for the opportunities.”
The match did not take long.
From the opening bell, Ngalani — a four-time Muay Thai & Kickboxing Heavyweight World Champion — chopped Hassan’s legs with low kicks. The Egyptian tried to retaliate with punches, but every charge allowed the Impakt MMA man to zone in on a chance to end the bout.
As he stepped back, Hassan followed – right into the perfect range to eat a lightning-fast spinning heel kick. The strike sent Ngalani’s opponent tumbling to the canvas. The Hong Kong hulk swarmed for the finish with ground and pound, forcing the referee to wave off the action 31 seconds into the first round.
“The spinning heel kick is a technique which I have done a lot throughout my martial arts career. I have a few victories with it. It is one of my favorite kicks,” Ngalani explains.
“He was a boxer, so I had to kick him. When I landed a low kick, he was countering with strong punches. He got me with a punch, I moved back quickly, and then I just stepped back again while he was coming forward.
“I was confident he would not reach me with his shot, and the timing was perfect. I knew when he was coming forward that he was in the perfect place for it.”
Hassan clearly did not realize what he was walking into, nor did the Indonesian fans anticipate that the 120-kilogram “Panther” would be able to explode with such speed and precision.
In the most emphatic fashion possible, Ngalani had announced himself as arguably the most athletic heavyweight striker in the sport.
“I got in there, and I landed my kick very quickly, and it was just beautiful. It was very memorable – my first time in ONE, and my first win.”
It was the start of an exciting relationship with the world’s largest martial arts organization. “The Panther” has 10 promotional appearances, and owns some of the organization’s most memorable knockouts – including three of the four fastest in heavyweight history.
He is also the only athlete to have competed in ONE Super Series and mixed martial arts bouts, and it all began with that fearless 31-second performance in Indonesia.