Malaysia’s capital city has been the scene of much of the 23-year-old’s mixed martial arts success, as seven of his eight ONE Championship wins have come in his hometown.
Every victory provides an unforgettable moment, as his passionate fans celebrate with him when he has his hand raised.
However, one stands above all others in his eyes. Thani says his submission over battle-tested veteran Jeff Huang was the most important of his career so far.
Can Agilan "Alligator" Thani remain unbeaten on his home turf? Kuala Lumpur | 13 July | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onepursuit18
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, July 3, 2018
When the pair met at ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS in February 2017, it was billed as a litmus test for “Alligator.” If he could overcome AKA Thailand’s Huang, then people might start to believe he was ready to step up and face the division’s elite.
Though he was still just 21 years old, Thani wanted the toughest tests available to showcase his skills to the world. He knew the Chinese athlete would fit the bill with his perfect 3-0 record in The Home Of Martial Arts.
“It was one of my biggest wins because people got to see how good I am, and how good my grappling is,” he explains.
“Jeff is not an easy opponent for anyone. He was ranked highly in Asia, and he has faced some good guys, so I know the win gave a really good impression on people.”
The biggest coup for the Monarchy MMA product was how one-sided he was able to make the bout, as he pushed forward from the opening bell to pressure Huang with wrestling and ground and pound.
Thani hunted for strikes on the ground as well as submissions. He put Huang in danger as he took his back and rained down strikes from mount, but his durable adversary managed to see out round one.
There was no reduction in intensity in round two. The Malaysian kept up the pressure, and ultimately sealed the deal with a tight rear-naked choke at the midway point of the second stanza.
“My goal was to keep grinding the whole fight,” Thani says. “Jeff was really strong, a big guy at the weight class, and I didn’t expect to finish him.
“The finish came, and I took it, and that was just the icing on the cake!”
As the first man to defeat Huang in four ONE Championship outings, Thani knew that victory would serve as a springboard to the division’s upper echelon.
However, he didn’t foresee himself challenging for Ben Askren‘s ONE Welterweight World Title right away, but he seized the opportunity regardless.
“I didn’t expect a title shot. I thought I’d get a step up against someone who would get me closer,” he explains.
“I was a little surprised, but I went with the flow and accepted it.”
Despite coming up short at the first time of asking, the experience of challenging for the belt taught Thani a lot of lessons. It also made him hungry to get back to that level down the road and go one better next time.
Agilan "Alligator" Thani writes the next chapter of his storied career on 7 December!Kuala Lumpur | 7 December | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedestiny18
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, November 24, 2018
“After Huang, I have been facing good competition, and I’m just doing my best to prove myself again so I can work back to the top.”
“Alligator” will take the next step on that journey at the Axiata Arena at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS.
He will face Kyrgyz Prime Selection GP Welterweight Champion Kiamrian Abbasov in the co-main event, and he knows another performance like the one against Huang will put him back on the road to gold.