Alain Ngalani

Photo credit to ONE Championship PR

Alain Ngalani on Thomas Narmo bout and his ONE Championship journey

Alain Ngalani recently fought to a relatively inauspicious no contest against Thomas Narmo. The ONE: Battleground II bout ended abruptly after an errant low blow.

I recently chatted with The Panther shortly after that August 13th bout broadcast. Excerpts from my conversation with the heavyweight highlight reel are below.

Alain Ngalani

A passion for fitness and guiding people towards general wellness

“I mean, I’m very fortunate. Have to say I’m very fortunate to be doing what I like to do. What I love, what I’m passionate about. Everything that I do is around what I’m passionate about. What I’m passionate about is a healthy lifestyle, exercising, and keeping fairly happy. That’s what I’m passionate about and I’m very happy to share it with the people. My lifestyle, my training.”

The early days of Judo and Karate since he was five years old

“My parents were into being fit and living a healthy lifestyle. So, my mom introduced us to martial arts very early in our upbringing. When I was five years old, I started my martial arts journey and I never stopped. I’m very thankful because that has really kept me away from a lot of trouble. It kept me on the right path. Kept me very centered in my life. It kept me also very knowledgeable and knowing what I want. Be passionate about something and being disciplined. It teaches you a lot of values. Values of respect, honesty, hard work, and dedication.”

The competitive path for martial arts

Alain Ngalani said, “As the family tradition, the parents always guide the children onto a career path. Then they kind of influence them in your career path. So my parents always said you should try to be a doctor. My brother should try to be a lawyer and this one should try to be this one.”

“They wanted me to be a doctor, to study medicine, to do well in mathematics and physics. So I can focus on that path, go to university, and do science. I love martial arts. My dream was being able to be a world champion and able to own a martial arts center. Where I could change people’s lives, introduce people to healthy lifestyles.”

“So, I’m very happy that I focused on that. When I changed at University and I went to study science, I went on to go around the world competing and opened my center. It’s been a dream and it’s been a blast. Today, I have a lot of young athletes, and also just kids, school kids and teenagers. People who are looking up to me… My approach and my guidance. I’m very happy to say that I’ve been helping them a lot and guiding them into the right path. To be healthy, to be passionate about whatever they want to do, and to value what martial arts teaches you.”

ONE Championship

Being a role model while Ngalani considers his own early on martial arts role models

“Yes, definitely. I think it’s fair to say I translate this same thing. Growing up we all are influenced, one way or another. I was influenced. I was influenced by Bruce Lee; Jean-Claude Van Damme whom I know today. I receive messages from all over the world and have kids contacting me. I’m very happy when I see that. Kids trying to reach out to me and saying, you are my favorite person in the world, or you are my favorite athlete.”

Alain Ngalani continued, “My dream is to be able to see you, or meet you, or train with you. This is amazing, right? I take that opportunity to get back to the kid and to help them any way that I can. So, I’ve been doing that. I’m very pleased. That really, it’s a life fulfillment. To be able to do that, more than anything else that I do in my life. I think that’s my legacy.”

His picture-perfect debut outing inside the ONE Circle against Mahmoud Hassan

“To be able to step in there and come out with such a performance, it doesn’t always happen. In training, I’m able to do a lot of things. I’m able to create a lot of movement and do a lot of combinations. Come up with some really amazing style and amazing combinations. And it’s not often that you manage to translate that into the cage or the ring. Because you have someone in front of you who also is trying to hurt you.”

“So, it’s difficult to put it there. You have a lot of things in mind, but you can’t always find an opening to get that in. I’m always looking for that. So, once you manage to put that in, it’s amazing. It’s something you can never forget, and it goes into your collection.”

Aung La N Sang and Sanford MMA

Training with former opponent Aung La N Sang recently at Sanford MMA 

“Yeah, I’m also very fortunate fighting and competing. Traveling, meeting people, making friends out of my opponents. My approach is different. My approach is like this. When I’m going into competing, I found it relaxes me to be friendly. For some people to be able to get off the emotion, it’s very stressful to fight… You’re nervous, you’re sweating, and some people really love anger. They’re angry in the face to face. They even almost punch you or push you. Shove you, swear at you, they don’t want to shake your hands, and so on.”

Alain Ngalani continued, “So, that’s how they react because of their insecurity and because of their fear. They react like that to feel better or stay stronger. But for me, being friendly and smiley is my approach. I feel better that way. I’m very nervous when I’m about to go into the cage. Then once I’m there, I’m very relaxed. Then everything is slow, everything just happens. I feel much better when I’m friendly, not when I’m angry. I don’t need to be angry, I’m friendly. That has brought me to have a lot of friends out of my opponents.”

Longevity in combative competition and the Thomas Narmo contest

Positive mental attitude really lending itself to Alain Ngalani’s lengthy tenure in combat sports 

“Yes, definitely. I’m very pleased that my lifestyle and my approach has kept me going until now. At my age (46), I would say that I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life, physically and mentally. There’s nothing stopping me. I feel like I’m 30 years old. So if I’m healthy and if I’m enjoying what I’m doing, there’s no stopping me. Age is just a number. It’s all up to the lifestyle that you have.”

The feeling in the ONE Circle after the no-contest ruling vs Thomas Narmo at ONE: Battleground II

“To be honest, once the decision was announced I was very disappointed, and I was very confused. I think they removed that part out but that lead to a lot of discussion. Wasn’t okay with it and I voiced my objection. I voice it very loudly. Especially because just before when I was waiting the referee already told me, if he doesn’t continue you win the fight. Because you’ve been leading and we’re already past the second round. We are at the end of the second round. So, if it doesn’t continue, you naturally win the fight… If he continues, I’m in a good place.”

“During the whole fight, I was trying not to look for the knockout. The game plan was for me to pace myself, just be very calm. Very composed, just take my time, and pick him bit by bit. Bit by bit with no rush. And that’s what I was doing. Once he was down and I was there in the corner, what I was thinking in my head was ‘you know what? I’m ready to knock him out. He gets up, I will knock him out’. And then he didn’t get up. It was very smart for him not to get up. Because I don’t think there was anything else he could have done. He was done…I was disappointed.”

“I knew that I won that fight. He knows that I won the fight. He (Thomas Narmo) came out after the fight outside and he told me ‘Dude, you won the fight. You beat me up’…. Very happy with my performance and knew that I won the fight. Gave me the win bonus. Although because it’s not just about the money, I would have liked to have my hand raised and have what I deserve. Officially I didn’t get that and of course, that’s hurtful.”

Alain Ngalani continued, “But you know what’s good and what I choose to focus on? I receive a lot of messages both locally and internationally. From all my fans in Hong Kong and all over the world. They see me as the champion. And praised my performance. So, if I’m the people’s champ, I’m fine with that as well.”

The remainder of 2021 and the 2013 MMA debut in ONE Championship

Ideal 2021 strength of schedule going forward and a multitude of possible heavyweight matchups

“I’m not going to name anyone because that’s not my style. But the heavyweight division is packed at the moment. I have at least maybe five, six people that I haven’t fought before. That are there for me to fight. I’m looking for one more fight before the end of the year. I’m sure it will be announced soon.”

Being with the promotion since 2013 and the mutual growth along with ONE Championship

“You know when I started with the promotion, the promotion was fairly new and fairly modest. It wasn’t such a big event. We didn’t have so many athletes. It’s just amazing to see how far we have gone. How far the promotion has gone and how far I have gone myself. When I started with ONE Championship on my second page I had maybe, I don’t know, two or three or four thousand followers.”

“I had done that highlight-reel knockout with Mahmoud Hassann in 2013 where I did the spinning heel kick, once that video was published, I think I went from 4000 to 100,000. Since then, I’ve been from 100,000 to now almost 700,000. In both my social media, I’m over a million followers. And that’s just how far we have gone. It’s amazing. The average has been incredible. We have one great crowd, and this company has done a lot for me. For a lot of athletes and for Asia. We are grateful to be able to perform in such a high standard. With such quality around us.”

Alain Ngalani continued, “The way ONE Championship works for me has made me stick around for this long. Otherwise, I would have stopped already. But what they stand for. It’s for me, it means a lot. You know the respect that we have there. The rules, the organization is very respectful and it’s very encouraging. For me to have the boss Chatri (Sityodtong) himself message me after if I fight to always encourage me or to give me some advice. And not just to me but to a lot of fighters. It adds a personal touch. It’s amazing and that is very encouraging.”

Parting thoughts for Alain Ngalani

“I’m looking forward to get back out there. At least get back to Hong Kong. I want to catch up with my Hong Kong team and my Hong Kong fans. Who are looking forward to meeting me in my center to get some type of training. I’m very happy for all the support and all the messages that I’ve got from all over the world. I’ve got 1000s and 1000s of messages. That’s always very encouraging and God bless everyone. I hope everyone keep safe out there.”

author avatar
Dylan Bowker
I've been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I've hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I've been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I've provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I've worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.