Vitor Belfort Being Penciled to Face Alain Ngalani in ONE Debut

Vitor Belfort’s much-awaited debut in ONE Championship was already in the pipeline before the novel coronavirus pandemic caused the world to halt to a virtual standstill.

The Brazilian legend confirmed in an interview with MMA Junkie that his management team was in the middle of negotiations with ONE Championship head honcho Chatri Sityodtong when the health crisis hit and paralyzed most parts of the globe.

“So my agent has been taking to Chatri to finalize a fight, but then all of this came along. It’s crazy. Everything is put on hold, but I’m definitely looking forward to step back into action and bring something [new to] reinvent myself,” Belfort stated.

Though it was revealed that Belfort would be competing at heavyweight for the first time since October 2006 when he fought Dan Henderson at Pride 32: The Real Deal, no name had been mentioned as his opponent in his maiden promotional appearance.

However, a live Q&A session with Belfort hosted by Brazilian outlet AG Fight had him saying that Alain Ngalani happens to be the top choice to welcome him in the Singapore-headquartered organization later this year.

“We discussed a few names for my opponent. One of them is Alain Ngalani. He is a really big guy. He’s very flexible and very strong. We talked about a possible fight against me,” Belfort said in Portuguese.

With a professional record of 4-5, Ngalani has been a staple in ONE Championship’s heavyweight division since September 2013, winning his first assignment against Mahmoud Hassan by way of 31-second knockout at ONE: Champions & Warriors.

Since then, the Hong Kong-based Cameroonian has had a fair share of highs and lows, picking up victories over the likes of ex-URCC heavyweight titlist Igor Subora, Hideki Sekine and Ariunbold Tur-Ochir while suffering losses at the hands of Chi Lewis-Parry, Alexandre Machado and Mauro Cerilli.

The most high-profile bout that Ngalani has ever been part of in his run with ONE Championship was in November 2017 when he took on Aung La N Sang in the main event of ONE: Hero’s Dream. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the Burmese superstar’s guillotine choke in the first round.

He also dipped his toes into ONE Super Series, the company’s spin-off league for Muay Thai and kickboxing.

Talking to South China Morning Post, Ngalani made an effort not to spill any detail about the potential match-up with Belfort. But the 44-year-old admitted that he would not pass up an opportunity to share the stage with the former UFC light heavyweight champion.

“I don’t really want to mention it right now because it’s still under negotiation, so I don’t want to throw it out there, but there has been talk for me first to go into a super fight. There are a few names. Among others, we have Vitor Belfort who is a megastar and it would be a pleasure for me and a huge fight for me to have with him. But nothing is sure yet,” Ngalani explained.

“This is a once in a lifetime thing. Personally, Vitor Belfort has been a megastar for me and a huge, huge, huge influence. It’s an honor if ever I have to cross [paths with] him,” he added.

On the other hand, Belfort was last seen in action when Lyoto Machida knocked him out with a front kick in the second round of their UFC 224 encounter in May 2018.

Belfort confidently believe the attributes that he demonstrated in lighter weight classes will give him leverage in his planned heavyweight return.

“With my speed and explosion, I have a lot of advantages in heavyweight. In light heavyweight and middleweight, there are more skilled fighters. In heavyweight, there are fighters with a strong grip, with strength, but I think I have speed and strength on my side,” he pointed out.

“It’s a category that I’ve always done well. I want to fight against a guy who’s heavier than me again.”

Author: Robert Belen

Robert Belen is a long-time combat sports writer for dSource Boxing. An avid sports fan, he knows no fear nor partiality in his reporting. If you have a problem with him, tell it to his face. (We bid you not.) You can follow him on Twitter @robertbelen

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