Agilan Thani may only be 22, but he already has nine bouts under his belt, with eight of them coming under the ONE Championship banner, including a world title challenge.
It’s helped make him one of the most experienced campaigners under the bright lights of ONE.
His last bout, against Egypt’s Sherif “The Shark”Mohamed, was a particularly important one for Thani, who was looking to bounce back after losing out to legendary champion Ben Askren in his challenge for the ONE Welterweight World Title in his previous outing.
That defeat against the undefeated – and now-retired – American taught Thani a lot, and the Malaysian says he’s a better martial artist for the experience.
“I learned so much since then,” he said.
“I trained so hard for that camp, and I realised that if your mind is not there, the training is just useless. The last match-up with Mohamed Sherif, all I wanted to do was to perform, and perform at my best level.”
Thani dominated Mohamed for three rounds to claim a landslide decision victory. It was a decisive win, and significant in the fact that it was the first time Thani had gone the full three rounds in his professional career.
Sometimes athletes take going the distance as a failure to secure a finish, but for a young martial artist like Thani, it was a valuable experience, though he admitted he would have preferred to have scored a KO or submission to end the fight inside the distance.
“Obviously, it is good, and I am happy with what I did in the last bout,” he said.
“But if I got the finish, I would have been even happier.
“Finishing a bout is the best feeling in the whole world. You just made a man quit. I just want to finish my opponent as quickly as possible. But if it goes 15 minutes, I will take it.”
Thani’s next matchup sees him take on promotional newcomer Amitesh Chaubey at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday, 9 March.
“I watched a couple of his bouts, and he has a very big overhand right. He is a very naturally strong guy. I will not underestimate him,” Thani said.
“He is a very good, quality opponent, and I am just hopeful to put on a show for everyone and show my best against him.”
India’s Chaubey is an SFL Welterweight Champion, renowned for his heavy hands and aggressive style.
Thani is confident he can finish him, however, but says the crucial factor in his approach is not to focus on the finish itself. Instead, he’ll just focus on performing at his best.
“I do not look at my opponent as the guy I am going to beat and I am going to finish,” he said.
“No, I am just looking to perform my best, and prove myself as an athlete.
“I know he is a good martial artist, and I am just looking forward to challenging him, and I want him to be the best on event night. I do not want him to come in out of shape or anything.”
Another strong performance from Thani will move him back up the welterweight ranks again, as he looks to build momentum on his quest to earn a second shot at the ONE Welterweight World Championship.
The man known as “The Alligator” says he’s ready to go through the best contenders in the division to prove his worth.
“I want to beat the best guys. I just want to win and move forward,” he stated.
“I just want to keep competing [against] the best so that I can win every match, and eventually get my way back to the title.”