Former ONE Welterweight World Title challenger Agilan “Alligator” Thani is always game to face anyone in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
“It took me by surprise, and I had to ask again,” he confessed.
“It unfolded at the ONE Elite Retreat last month. The ONE Championship team there were asking me how I was doing, and I shared my recovery program with them.
“I told them I’m good and ready to compete, but they said they’ll want to see me train first before coming to a conclusion.
“So, I did just that. I trained and sparred with Brandon Vera, and a few other athletes on the retreat. After a while, they told me that I looked great, and ‘Sexyama’ will be a perfect opponent.”
Despite being matched against a 43-year-old icon with 20 bouts to his name, Thani — who trains at Monarchy MMA in Kuala Lumpur — has remained confident about his chances at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST, which takes place on Saturday, 15 June in Shanghai, China.
After all, most of the Malaysian’s opponents have always been a more experienced contender.
“I accepted the offer right away. Plus, most of the guys I fought have always been older than me, and they’ve always given me a great challenge,” the 23-year-old shared.
“Yoshihiro will be no different. I cannot underestimate him, or think he’s past his prime. There might be a new motivation for him here [in ONE Championship].”
The world’s largest martial arts organization boasts an abundance of stars in its welterweight division.
Thani knows Akiyama – just like him – will have his eyes on Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam’s ONE Welterweight World Title.
“At first, I expected to be on the Kuala Lumpur card, but it really doesn’t bother me anymore because for now, I just want to compete,” he explained.
“I thought this is the right opportunity, and I took it. I’m going to get my documentation and visa ready in the meantime before I fly there closer to fight night.”
Video link #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFfrhuPSE74&t=42s
Video link #2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndlfdgj9TF4&t=25s