Last Friday, 12 July, the fans in the Axiata Arena were on their feet to cheer two Malaysian Muay Thai heroes in a ONE Super Series bantamweight encounter that delivered non-stop action for three rounds.
The contest was competitive throughout, but “Jordan Boy” took the unanimous decision after a powerful display of “the art of eight limbs.”
It was a crucial result to get the 23-year-old from Kuala Lumpur back in the winning column, and after he got his hand raised, he revealed how he prevailed against one of his role models.
ONE Championship: Was there any extra pressure with you competing in Kuala Lumpur again?
Mohammed Bin Mahmoud: I have never felt nervous whenever I fight in my country, especially in Kuala Lumpur.
I don’t care who ONE Championship pairs me up against, but when I’m in my hometown, hearing the support somewhere I’ve fought at on 100 occasions, I’m always in fight-mode.
ONE: Did you change your training to prepare for this match?
MBM: I’ve worked on a lot of techniques throughout this training camp. In addition, I prepared for this fight at two gyms, Sampuri Muay Thai Gym Ampang and Selendang Kuning Muay Thai Studio in Bukit Jalil.
I slept at Selendang at night and trained there in the morning. In the evenings, I spent about three to four hours at Sampuri Muay Thai Gym.
I reserved most of my energy for my training in Sampuri at night. But I had three sessions of training in the morning, afternoon, and evening. My coaches at Selendang said the only thing missing from my previous fights was my stamina, and we worked very hard on that.
ONE: How much of a difference did your training for stamina make?
MBM: We worked on a lot of strength and conditioning techniques, which aided my fight. Round three was where I believe it showed my true advantage over Saiful Merican.
I had a lot left in my tank, and even if it went on for another round, I’m confident I would have come out of my corner with the same energy.
ONE: Did you have any nerves about going in against Merican, who you have a lot of respect for?
MBM: I did not [have any] fear. I just told myself, ‘This is my time. I want to shine, and I want to win.’ This was part of my mental game.
My coaches advised me to up my mental game a lot before the match, and I was trying my best to enter the ring and smile at him to show that I did not have any fear in my heart.
ONE: Did you make an effort to be more aggressive in this match?
MBM: This was all part of the game plan. I was more focused on his left hook and leg kicks, but at the same time, my coaches forced me to use more combinations which started with punches and ended with hard kicks.
We analyzed a lot of Saiful’s game, and thankfully, it worked out perfectly fine.
ONE: What do you think were your biggest advantages?
MBM: I think my reach and my height advantage was one. Secondly, I think it’s down to me being the more active competitor.
He is very experienced, but he hasn’t competed for two years. That might have worked in my favor.
ONE: What was the most difficult thing about the match?
MBM: Saiful Merican is a Malaysian Muay Thai legend, and he was a very tough opponent. His leg kicks and punches were very heavy.
His left hook landed a lot. It hit me hard, and I was very aware of it from the very start. Plus, he’s a very experienced athlete, so I know he’s faced someone of my quality before.
I just couldn’t show him that I was scared, and I know if I did, that would be the end of me.
ONE: Were you certain you would get the decision after three-rounds?
MBM: It was tough, but I was certain that I was getting the win after three rounds.
As you know, it’s been a tough period for me. I’ve lost the past three matches, but to end that in Kuala Lumpur is something special.
I don’t want to talk too much about it because it wasn’t one of my better performances in my career. I know there are tougher matches ahead.
ONE: What will come next for you?
MBM: I’m going to enjoy this win for now, but it’s another week of training next week. I cannot wait for what’s next in my career.
There are a lot of talented guys in the division, but as you know, I’ve fought five times since I made my debut in December, and I never say no to a challenge.
A win will push you up the weight class, but I’m working harder than ever to make sure I improve all my shortcomings in my defeats.