Agilan “The Alligator” Thani has tremendously high self-confidence, and that could serve him well.
The 21-year-old Malaysian will need full belief in himself and his abilities when he enters the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday Night, 26 May. He is scheduled to challenge unbeaten ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren for his title in the co-main event of ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES.
Although Askren has annihilated his opponents with relative ease and decimated the welterweight division’s elite, Thani is not intimidated at all. In fact, he thinks the undefeated champ is very beatable, and that the fight starts with being in the right frame of mind.
“Most people put him way up there in their minds, so they have low self-esteem about themselves and do not believe in what they can do,” the Kuala Lumpur resident explains. “The key to fighting somebody good is in your mind. You have to stay strong and believe in whatever you have.”
Thani has that strength of will, as he overcame the emotional rigors that accompany bullying and childhood obesity. However, ever since the Monarchy MMA product lost close to 60kg and made his professional cage debut in December 2013, he has proven to be a force to be reckoned with.
Thani is a former MIMMA Welterweight Champion who holds a perfect 7-0 record, with four victories coming by way of submission and another three coming by way of TKO for a 100 per cent finishing rate.
Most recently, “The Alligator” competed at ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS in February, where he demolished Jeff Huang and tapped him out with a rear-naked choke in the second round. Following the fight, he pleaded for a title shot against Askren. His reasoning was quite simple.
“I have been fighting in ONE Championship for two years now,” the Malaysian says. “I have been winning all the time and finished all my opponents, and I wanted to fight someone better than Jeff (Huang). I do not want to keep fighting pretenders.”
Askren is far from a pretender. Not only is he the real deal, but the “Funky” warrior is quite arguably the best welterweight mixed martial artist on the planet.
The American is a two-time NCAA Division I Champion and a former Olympic wrestler who debuted in the cage in 2009. Since the move, he has been flawless in professional competition. He owns a record of 15-0, 1 NC, and has held the ONE Welterweight World Championship since claiming it from Nobutatsu Suzuki nearly three years ago at ONE: REIGN OF CHAMPIONS.
Despite that impressive resume, Thani believes Askren’s time in the spotlight will be up on Friday Night, 26 May. “The Alligator” plans to deliver the first and only blemish to the Evolve MMA product’s record at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES, and capture the coveted belt in the process.
In Thani’s mind, he has already won.
“When I win the title, it will be a great moment, because all these years, my main goal has been to be a world champion. And secondly, it will be [a great moment] for all the people who have supported me — not just my family members, but my teammates from Monarchy MMA, my girlfriend, my family, and my friends,” he states.
“Also, people will finally see a Malaysian win a world title as well, because most people do not believe in Malaysians. They think Malaysians can win local tournaments, but not world titles, and I am about to prove them wrong and set the stage for Malaysia. We can compete and do it at the world-class level.”