Alain “The Panther” Ngalani is ready to put on a show for martial arts fans in Yangon, Myanmar, but if he has his way, it will end with the fall of a hero.
On Friday, 3 November, the four-time Muay Thai and kickboxing heavyweight world champion will step into enemy territory. He braves a partisan Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon to take on local hero and ONE Middleweight World Champion Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang (20-10, 1 NC) at ONE: HERO’S DREAM.
The main event will be an open weight clash of epic proportions, and will kick off a month-long series of cards to be headlined by a slew of thrilling title bouts.
For Ngalani, he is planning to finish Aung La N Sang, and wants to provide a highlight-reel moment that will stand the test of time.
“I am an entertainer. I like to please the crowd and give them what they want. I am always looking to make a match special and memorable, so most of my matches will always be memorable,” the 42-year-old Hong Kong-based Cameroonian says.
“I know the eyes of the crowd are watching me. I know they want to see something different, and I am always ready to give them something different. So if I see an opportunity [for the knockout], I will definitely grab it.”
Last September, Ngalani did something extraordinary that could remain in the history books for a long time to come.
At ONE: TOTAL VICTORY, he recorded the fastest knockout ever in ONE Championship’s heavyweight division, as he stopped seven-time BJJ Champion and former ONE Heavyweight World Title challenger, Hideki “Shrek” Sekine of Japan, with a single punch in 11 seconds.
“The Panther” understood where the Japanese behemoth’s strengths and weaknesses lay, and formulated the perfect strategy to defeat him.
“I knew that Sekine was a champion and very good in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I knew that he was going to come out and look to take me down, because by taking me down, he would stop me from striking,” he explains.
“I am good at striking; that is my thing, and the only way he can stop my striking is to close the distance and take me down. So by trying to close the distance, you are also going to open yourself up for mistakes. It is a risk to take, he took the risk, and he got knocked out.”
Ngalani hopes to repeat his success against Aung La N Sang, someone whom he has admired for quite some time.
Ever since making his promotional debut in June 2014, Aung La N Sang has been on an absolute tear. “The Burmese Python” has proven to be a durable competitor with a well-rounded skill set, and like Ngalani, a tendency to finish matches. Of the Myanmar hero’s 20 victories, 11 have come by way of submission, and another seven by knockout.
The most impressive of his victories happened last June, when he challenged then-undefeated ONE Middleweight World Champion, Vitaly Bigdash, in a title rematch at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION in his native Yangon.
Aung La N Sang nearly knocked out the titleholder in the opening stanza, but the champ recovered and the battle raged on. Bigdash kept scoring takedowns, but “The Burmese Python” nullified his ground attack and would later batter him with hard combinations.
After five grueling rounds, the 32-year-old local hero earned a unanimous decision victory in front of the hometown crowd. He was awarded with the ONE Middleweight World Title, and became the first Myanmar-born World Champion in any sport.
It was a special moment, the type that Ngalani likes to provide fans with, and he could not be any happier for his opponent’s crowning achievement.
“As a martial artist, I think Aung La N Sang is good. He has been in the business for a while, and he has a very good background. Even before he won the title at middleweight, I was observing him, and I like him. For what he was doing for his country, I thought it was awesome,” Ngalani states.
“He is the middleweight champion, and I praise him for that, and I am very proud of him for winning the title. That is good. But now, he is competing against me. That is a different game.”
While “The Burmese Python” is entering this open weight contest as a world champion, Ngalani strongly believes the pressure is on himself. The Hong Kong-based Cameroonian will be the decisively bigger athlete, and needs to maintain his forward momentum.
Also, defeating one of the promotion’s most beloved titleholders in convincing fashion will only elevate him further in his own pursuit for ONE gold.
“This is purely a super bout, and obviously, being the bigger guy, I do not want to lose against someone who is lighter than me at all,” Ngalani says. “I have a lot of things to prove, but I am excited to collide with him. He is the middleweight champion, and I give him a lot of respect for that.
“It is going to be awesome. I think the fans are going to love it, and they will not want to miss it. They know I am explosive. I am not a boring martial artist. I am not going over there to look at my nails; I am going over there to look to finish it, and my opponent is surely going to give me a good match. I am looking forward to that.”
Yangon | 3 November | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: http://bit.ly/ONEHerosDream