Alain “The Panther” Ngalani has experienced victory many times in his career.
The four-time Muay Thai & Kickboxing Heavyweight World Champion had a seasoned tenure in the ring, before turning his attention to mixed martial arts, where he has continued to prosper.
In September 2013, the hulking knockout artist made his debut at ONE: CHAMPIONS & WARRIORS, and he displayed his striking prowess to the fans at the earliest possible opportunity.
Ngalani has compiled even more wins since that time, often in stunning fashion. However, the one that tops his list of favorites happened even quicker. As a matter of fact, it is a record-breaker.
When titans collide. Alain 'The Panther' Ngalani will soon be striking up a storm in ONE Super Series!
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, May 3, 2018
Four years later, in September 2017, the Hong Kong native met former ONE Heavyweight World Title challenger Hideki “Shrek” Sekine at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY, which took place at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia.
Ngalani was under an immense amount of pressure heading into the contest.
He had aspirations of challenging the division’s kingpin Brandon “The Truth” Vera for the illustrious belt, and knew he needed to make a statement in order to even keep his name in the title conversation.
Beyond that, in its simplest form, “The Panther” needed to get a solid win just to move forward in his career. He had tasted defeat in his previous bout, and he did not want another bite.
“I was coming off a loss,” the 43-year-old says. “In my mind, I cannot carry two defeats. I had to win. I was going to win. I would not be beaten again. I saw it as life or death.”
That was not the only thing bearing down on Ngalani.
He has competed many times at the highest level in the striking world, but he was still not as comfortable as he would like with the grappling element of mixed martial arts.
“The Panther” had focused lots of time and energy into vastly improving his wrestling and submission game, but he knew Sekine was well-versed in that particular arena.
“I knew he was a seven-time grappling champion with amazing jiu-jitsu, and I was not at ease because I was struggling with guys who wanted to take me on the ground.”
This fear could make a competitor shrink away, but “The Panther” rose to the task, and prepared an all-or-nothing strategy for his Japanese opposition.
“I was dead set that he would not grab me,” Ngalani states.
“I knew he was going to rush me, and we trained a lot for that. The plan was to step back, and strike.”
That is exactly what the Hong Kong resident did.
Sekine bum-rushed Ngalani in search of the takedown. “The Panther” circled away from his mammoth adversary, and threw a straight left.
It did not seem to faze “Shrek,” who continued to charge forward. Ngalani backed up, but managed to launch a powerful right hook to the chin, which instantly knocked out the Japanese warrior and sent him crashing face-first to the canvas.
“He did just what we expected, and I got him with the right hand,” the hulk continues. “It was a mirror image of what we prepared — the timing was perfect.”
Most surprising of all, Ngalani only needed 11 seconds to pull off the feat — a whole three minutes faster than Vera needed when he successfully defended the belt against Sekine in December 2016.
What’s more, it was the fastest knockout and stoppage victory ever recorded in the heavyweight division — breaking the record set by Vera, who knocked out Paul Cheng to claim the inaugural ONE Heavyweight World Title in December 2015.
In victory, “The Panther” had emphatically proven that grapplers were no longer his kryptonite. With the right preparation, he could defeat any opponent, regardless of their style.
Dispatching a former World Title challenger in such fashion sent a wave through the division, and when Ngalani returns, it will set him in good stead for a potential opportunity of his own.
“It propelled me even further,” he acknowledges. “The fact that it was a spectacular knockout, and the fastest ever, was good for my career.”
Ngalani went back home to Hong Kong to huge acclaim from the press, and a party from his local community, before resuming his normal routine of training — and coaching the next generation of martial artists — at his gym, Impakt MMA.
Forays into the light heavyweight division, as well as the all-striking ONE Super Series, means we have not seen “The Panther” in heavyweight action since that phenomenal KO. Still, he knows he still has what it takes to remain a top contender.