MMA: Agilan Thani enters his biggest fight of career in S'pore against Ben Askren in One C'ship

Rising Malaysian star Agilan Thani will take on ONE Championship welterweight world champion Ben Askren for the title.
Rising Malaysian star Agilan Thani will take on ONE Championship welterweight world champion Ben Askren for the title. PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

SINGAPORE - Malaysian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Agilan Thani will be in the biggest fight of his career on Friday (May 26).

The 21-year-old is looking to take the welterweight belt from defending champion Ben Askren as part of the co-main event of the One Championship: Dynasty of Heroes.

Things will not be easy, as the 32-year-old American is a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I wrestling champion and former Olympic wrestler.

However, Thani, who has a 7-0 win-loss record, said: "I have been working on my wrestling because my opponent is a very high-level wrestler and grappler.

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"I have been working (on) the whole aspects of the game as well."

Added the Monarchy MMA member, who aims to make it a 8-0 mark at the Singapore Indoor Stadium: "A win on Friday will be another pat on my shoulder because there's more to this sport than just winning a belt."

Besides training for the fight, he has had to prepare himself for the trash-talking by his opponent.

Askren, who boasts a 15-0 win-loss professional record, has put his unbeaten streak and reputation on the line to challenge Thani, saying: "If he takes me down and submits me, I will retire."

Initially affected by the Askren's mind games, Thani said: "I have not much to say to him, but I am just looking to fight him on fight night.

"At first, it was because it (trash-talking) was new to me. I was getting frustrated over small things in training. If I don't do well in training, I will feel so useless and cry sometimes.

"But now I take it as a compliment and I feel no emotion going into the fight."

Having turned professional in 2013, the 2014 Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts welterweight champion was victorious in his latest fight against Taiwanese Jeff Huang in the One Championship: Throne of Tigers held in Kuala Lumpur earlier in February this year.