African MMA fans will be looking east this weekend as Cameroonian heavyweight Alain ‘The Panther’ Ngalani hosts the co-main event in Indonesia against the Japanese giant, Hideki ‘Shrek’ Sekine.
Both fighters are absolute behemoths who are multiple world champions in their given disciplines and are expected to deploy thunderous ordinance on Saturday evening to convince matchmaker Matt Hume that the victor who emerges with their hand raised at the JCC might just be able to handle ‘The Truth’.
For it was Brandon Vera who dispatched Sekine by strikes in the first round last Christmas to retain the shiny buckle, a waist-worn ornament that Ngalani has also vowed to make his own.
Ngalani’s mother enrolled him in Judo after school bullies stole his lunch, a decision that launched him on a glittering career path in martial arts including four Muay Thai world titles and a gym franchise with branches in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa.
But he announced himself most emphatically to the global MMA community when he beat the Egyptian bruiser Mahmoud Hassan in 2013 with an incredible spinning back-kick within seconds of the first.
African MMA fans will remember Hassan from his early EFC days when he beat Ricky Misholas by early TKO before dropping two in a row to Mikixi and Potts. He subsequently left to ONE.
Ngalani hasn’t had the most consistent record since that incredible debut, which you can watch here in its brief entirety, and even dabbled in Last Fighter Standing in Randburg, beating Danyo Illunga by decision before withdrawing from the final due to injury.
Now aged 42, The Panther is looking to KO Father Time in desperate pursuit of the ONE Heavyweight World Title.
Standing in his way is the former cop from Shizuoka Prefecture and 7-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion, Hideki Sekine.
His only pro-loss came in that title shot against Vera, having been undefeated prior throughout his career in Deep and lately in Ganryujima.
It’s a loss that still hurts but taught him the need to step up his striking game, something he will need against a man with the speed and power in the five limbs.
And like the Cameroonian, ‘Shrek’ is in his early 40s, where the tantalising sparkle of heavyweight gold may be the final shining glory to cap an already glittering career.
Nothing other than Total Victory will open the cage door to The Truth.