Agilan Thani faces the hard hitting Hiroyuki Tetsuka at ONE: ‘NextGen’ Part II. The event is being broadcast on Friday and the Malaysian is challenging the former welterweight King of Pancrase to test his chin,

“I want to see how strong I am. I’ve only been dropped once in my career and that wasn’t even a knockout where my lights went out. I have to test myself and see if this guy can put my lights out or not. At least I will know how strong my chin is.”

Thani might be better off protecting his chin but he does feel he will be superior to his opponent on the ground,

“My opponent is pretty tough, pretty jacked, pretty ripped. He has strong hands, he definitely has a lot of knockout power. However, I’ve never seen him do much on the ground, and perhaps he doesn’t have any grappling. I’ve never seen him do that, but I’m hoping for the best version of him.”

Mind game

Last time out Tetsuka lost to Murad Ramazanov at ONE: ‘Inside the Matrix’ Part III and Thani feels that fight exposed his opponent’s flaws,

“He got taken down too many times. He was held on the ground for a long time in that fight, and I guess it’s something he should put some effort on. He always tries to knock your lights out, or he tries to take you down and pounds you out. He doesn’t try to pass guard or submit. I’ve never seen him do that.”

Tetsuka has an impressive physique. Thani, who has competed at middleweight, is unlikely to win any bodybuilding contests but he doesn’t feel this will be a factor,

“It wouldn’t matter. Most of the guys I fight now are as strong as I am. I’ve fought stronger guys and been able to weather the storm. I’ve absorbed really good shots, so at this point, strength doesn’t matter. What matters is whose mind is sharper, who can think faster and more efficiently than the other,” he said.

Faster and smarter

He made his pro debut on a ONE Championship card in 2015 and has fought 15 times for the promotion. Thani feels this experience will be an advantage,

“It’s all about preparation and also being more composed. The older you get, the more composed you must be. We can’t fight like how we used to fight back then, just going in there to try and bull-rush. These days, the guys are faster and smarter.”

Thani has spent time training at various camps in the US. But he is back in Malaysia and says his preparation for this contest has been perfect,

“Training is way harder compared to back in the day. However, I have adapted to it. It’s going into my second year since I left Monarchy MMA. My head coach is pretty much still Conrado Furlan, and I work with another professor called Oswaldo, he’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.”

Submission skills

Thani has continued training throughout the pandemic and found a way to work out even when he couldn’t go to the gym,

“Even though lockdowns were imposed, I was still able to get some training in. I’ve just been doing it at home, going to my friends’ places, and so on. At the end of the day, we’ve got to do what we have to do. Because if we don’t train every day, we’re going to be super unfit to step in and compete.”

While he says he has been working on his striking Thani thinks it is his submission skills that will make the difference,

“I believe it will be won by taking him down and keeping him down. I want to dominate him on the ground.”