Agilan “Alligator” Thani cannot wait to return to action once ONE Championship’s 2020 calendar of events gets back underway.
The welterweight phenom has been tirelessly honing his craft ever since his latest victory in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia against Dante Schiro in December 2019.
Thani even saved enough money to travel to Florida, United States to polish his skill set under world-renowned coach Henri Hooft at Sanford MMA.
However, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, that dream camp alongside ONE World Champions Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang and Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen turned into a moment of short-lived joy.
“This past couple of months was real hard, especially with the situation I have been in,” Thani shares.
“In March, the COVID-19 situation started hitting America while I was there. And a couple of weeks later, Sanford MMA announced that they would be shutting down the gym due to the outbreak.”
Thani then left the United States and returned home to Malaysia, but the country’s movement control order also meant he could not train at Monarchy MMA or work out at the gym.
Despite those challenges, he refuses to look at his situation from a negative perspective, instead stressing that the obstacles have only resulted in a much hungrier “Alligator.”
“Although it was only a two-week camp, I am sure it has benefited me in a lot of ways,” Thani adds of his time in North America.
Moving forward, the Kuala Lumpur native believes he will adapt and thrive under difficult circumstances.
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Thani is still aiming to face the best and climb up the welterweight division’s rankings, and he has a former ONE Welterweight World Champion in his sights.
“Zebaztian Kadestam is a name everyone keeps mentioning that I should run it over again with, and I’m hoping this day will come,” he says.
In Thani’s initial meeting with Kadestam in July 2018, the Swedish star became the first athlete to score a knockout against the Malaysian warrior. The winning moment came when “The Bandit” landed a knee, a downward elbow, and a cross elbow to seal the victory at 1:56 of the third and final stanza.
“During the last fight against Kadestam, I was not physically prepared,” he admits. “I had an injury and it affected my style a lot. This is why I want to see how much more I can do at 100 percent.”
Thani still learned a lot about his rival that night, and he believes he has come a long way since the epic encounter in Kuala Lumpur’s Axiata Arena.
“Fighting with somebody whom you know will bring the fight to you excites people the most,” he says. “You know it’ll be a hard fight, but regardless of the outcome, you know you gave it your all and you did your best because that guy pushed you to your limits. This is what I discovered from the match against Kadestam.
“Kadestam is very durable. He has strong and hard punches. The biggest thing I learned about him is patience. He can take a shot and he can keep on waiting for that right moment to connect. He can move around and avoid takedowns, but when he throws, everything he throws is hard.”
Even though a rematch with “The Bandit” is his top priority, Thani would have no qualms if he doesn’t get the rematch he desires. The “Alligator” knows the other top contenders in the stacked welterweight division can give him a run for his money and believes a date with any Russian would be nothing short of fireworks.
“I like how [the Russian athletes] fight,” he offers. “They are so dominant and they are so strong. I want to test myself against these dudes mentally and physically more than anything. I believe they will be a great test.”
Regardless of his next opponent, another winning streak is one of Thani’s goals this year. If he pulls that off, he could one day challenge reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov for the division’s gold.
Until then, the rising star knows he must take things one step at a time.
“I want a title shot, but I know I’m not there yet,” Thani says. “I won’t ask for something that I don’t deserve. For now, I am focused on the other top guys.”