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Music Monday: The Pop Artists Who Make Agilan Thani Smile

Jun 15, 2020

Agilan “Alligator” Thani has proven to be one of the most talented athletes in ONE Championship’s welterweight division.

And when he’s not competing inside the Circle, he can usually be found with a big pair of headphones covering his ears.

The Malaysian sensation absolutely loves music, and those sounds fuel him during his most intense workouts and training camps.

But while mixed martial artists are stereotypically known for listening to rock and hip-hop, the Kuala Lumpur native finds motivation in pop music – more specifically, his two favorite artists, English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and American vocalist Ariana Grande.

“I believe both artists are very creative in the way they present their songs,” the 24-year-old says.

“Most of their songs are pretty easy to listen to, and I kind of get an instant connection when their songs play on my headphones.”

Sheeran first rose to fame when his 2011 EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project, reached #2 on the iTunes chart. The multi-talented musician then began writing songs for the likes of Taylor Swift and One Direction.

Over the years, Sheeran’s versatility has allowed him to become one of the world’s best-selling music artists, and the way he blends pop, soul, and folk together is one of the reasons why the “Alligator” listens to him.

“He has a couple of slow songs, while others are fast. The rest have a good mixture of it all, and to top it off, he even has a rap song. These tracks suit me in everything I do, at home or in the gym,” Thani says.

“If I’m sad, I listen to ‘The A Team,’ and if I’m feeling a little bit pumped up, I prefer to play ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.’

“If I’m having a real good day, and everything around me is just going the way I like it to be, it has to be his song with Justin Bieber titled ‘I Don’t Care.’”



Meanwhile, Thani admits that Grande is the first name he searches for on his playlist when he steps foot in the gym.

The American vocalist, who acted on the hit series Victorious, has become one of the most influential female artists in recent times. All five of her full-length albums have topped the charts, and she was even named Billboard’s “Woman Of The Year” in 2018.

“Her music is perfect whenever I go weightlifting. She’s just one of those artists who makes me feel good, and that mood allows me to have a great workout,” Thani says.

“When her hits such as ‘7 Rings,’ ‘Sweetener,’ ‘God Is A Woman,’ and ‘One Last Time’ are playing, it motivates me even more and pushes me to pump much harder in the gym.

“Even when I’m just shadow boxing, these tunes give me a calmer mind. It helps me get into a better rhythm.”

Thani enjoys listening to Sheeran’s and Grande’s songs about relationships, love, and life in general, but he also acknowledges those artists may not have the best entrance music.

“I don’t think I can walk out to their songs,” the Malaysian admits. “I need to be ready for my opponent, and I need something badder.”

As for his future walkout music, Thani indicated he might opt for some local flavor.

“I would love to walk out to possibly one of my favorite songs, and a local Malaysian Indian rap or rock and roll artist called Darkkey,” he says.

“I listen to him a lot these days, and it would be great to just be representing Malaysia.”

Read more: Music Monday: The Soundtrack To Thanh Le’s Life