“Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman has emerged as one of the most exciting talents in ONE Championship’s bantamweight division, and he plans to reinforce that point on Friday, 6 December.
Aiman has captured the hearts and imaginations of fans with his high energy, his immense creativity, and his unpredictable in-ring style.
The 24-year-old Bali MMA product demonstrated that in his most recent outing in August, when he defeated “The Terminator” Sunoto in the Philippines via unanimous decision.
This time, in the Malaysian capital, he looks to get a highlight-reel finish and give his countrymen a night to remember. He talks about that, and much more, in this exclusive interview.
ONE Championship: What was your initial reaction when you received the bout offer to face “The Ghost” Chen Rui in KL?
Muhammad Aiman: My wish for a long time has been to fight in Kuala Lumpur, so I’m glad ONE has given me the chance to do so.
I’m so excited to compete in Malaysia. I haven’t fought at home in a while, and it is just a different feeling whenever I step foot in the cage at home. I cannot describe that feeling in words.
ONE: What makes it so special to compete in Malaysia?
MA: Having the local support behind you gives you an edge. When I was younger, that is what I’ve always wanted to do – compete in front of my people and show them that we, Malaysians, can [succeed] on an international stage.
I want to inspire others through my performances. I also love to see my family after the fight — that means a lot to me. My fans as well.
ONE: Let’s talk a little bit about your opponent. What do you view as his strengths and weaknesses?
MA: His strengths and weaknesses are that he is basic. It works in a good and bad way for him. I love fighting these guys because I know how to take advantage of them. He is also pretty new in ONE, and I’ve got more experience competing in the cage and ring.
However, being basic isn’t always a bad thing. As a martial artist, you never underestimate who you face in the ring. But I love these situations, especially with the home crowd behind me.
I’ve watched a couple of fights that he won, and he’s quite good in a couple of areas. We’ll see whether he will come up with a similar performance against me.
ONE: How has your training camp been going in Bali, Indonesia?
MA: Every training camp is hard, there is always something happening. But win or lose, I just want to do my best.
My coaches, teammates, and everyone else at Bali MMA constantly help me progress as an athlete. Whether it’s a bit or a lot, at the end of the day, I know I’m improving.
ONE: Bali MMA has grown tremendously with loads of world-class athletes in recent years. How are you able to help each other during times like this?
MA: After the Sunoto fight, I’ve spent so much time helping other professional fighters. Most of our coaches here have been busy because most of our guys compete regularly every week or month. That involves a lot of time and traveling. We all help our friends who are in fight camp to train all the time, and likewise. It’s a great feeling.
ONE: What have you been focusing on lately?
MA: My coach has always told me to sharpen my basics and attacks. That’s about it, I guess. I believe I’m well equipped in various departments, and my only focus is to narrow down how I can improve those assets.
ONE: If you could introduce yourself to a new set of fans, what impact would you want to leave on them?
MA: I try to perform and entertain people — that’s probably my best quality. Besides that, I showcase even more in Kuala Lumpur. I’m excited and I’m unpredictable, even for myself. So, I don’t know what I’m going to do next Friday.
ONE: Lastly, how do you see this bout with “The Ghost” ending?
MA: I think I’ll finish him in the third round by strikes or submission. He is a good athlete, but I think I’m ready to give my fans a special night. My family will be there too, so expect this one to be a fight that everyone will remember.