Four-time Muay Thai and Kickboxing Heavyweight World Champion Alain “The Panther” Ngalani of Hong Kong is certainly a fan favorite. When he makes his return to the ONE Circle this Friday night, Ngalani will do so against perhaps the most physically imposing opponent he’s ever faced, and fans will certainly rally behind him.
Ngalani takes on ONE Championship upstart “Reug Reug” Oumar Kane of Dakar, Senegal in the main card of ONE: UNBREAKABLE II, a previously recorded event scheduled for global broadcast on 29 January.
Ngalani is excited for the colossal matchup and isn’t one bit fazed by Kane’s size advantage.
“I have faced people much bigger than him before and, if anything, I love the challenges. It excites me and triggers me even more to face someone who seems to be stronger and bigger than me,” Ngalani told ONE Championship in a recent interview.
Ngalani had been preparing himself for a showdown with mixed martial arts legend Vitor Belfort in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed that bout considerably. Wanting to return to action sooner rather than later, Ngalani chose to forego waiting for Belfort’s availability and instead take a high-risk fight against Kane.
Kane is a Senegalese Wrestling Champion, and at first impression is one of the most physically imposing heavyweights on the ONE Championship roster. Despite the challenge that lies before him, Ngalani feels he is completely ready to tackle the threats Kane poses head-on.
“My training has changed completely. I wasn’t training for MMA with Vitor Belfort at first. So when they proposed Oumar, I just had a few weeks to brush up on my wrestling and my wrestling defense. We have quickly done that, but as a fighter and athlete, I am always ready and able,” said Ngalani.
“I just needed to touch up and polish a few things. Otherwise, I am fit enough to step in to fight. I just have to strategize, and I am okay with that.”
In the main event of ONE: UNBREAKABLE II, former ONE Heavyweight World Title challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli of Italy will take on Russia’s Abdulbasir “Dagestan Machine” Vagabov.
Looking at the bout and studying his opponent, Ngalani feels confident he knows the specific strengths Kane brings to the table.
“I think, overall, I am much better than [‘Reug Reug’]. I think I am very strong, I am very flexible, I am very agile, and I am very fast. You can’t just be big without having the advantage of flexibility and being able to use the speed the way you have to. This is MMA – it’s not wrestling, so you have to be able to adapt, you have to be able to move, and you have to be really fast in everything you want to do, so speed is important,” said Ngalani.
“That’s not to say I take my opponent for granted. Not at all. I value his strength and his background. I know that he is a champion in traditional wrestling. I have always liked this wrestling style. It is very popular in Africa, especially in Senegal. Me, personally, I am a fan of that style and that is why I am even more excited to measure myself against him on this stage.”
That being said, Ngalani promises fans he will try his best to pull off an exciting finish.
“I definitely do not think this fight will go to the end. It will definitely end by finish. I am planning to finish him — that’s my plan,” Ngalani concluded.