The rising Malaysian star looked loose and composed as he fended off the grappling attack of veteran Indonesian competitor “The Terminator” Sunoto last Friday, 2 August, and swept the scorecards for a unanimous decision win.
Malaysian sensation Aiman Muhammad kicks off ONE: DAWN OF HEROES with an impressive striking display to claim a unanimous decision victory over Sunoto!: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, August 2, 2019
Despite his success, the 24-year-old was not entirely satisfied with his performance, and he believes he will be even better the next time he competes.
In this interview, Aiman breaks down what he did well at the Mall Of Asia Arena, what he could do better, and what could be next for him on the global stage.
ONE Championship: How does it feel like to make your ONE return?
Muhammad Aiman: I feel great, I feel alive again, to be honest. It’s been a long break.
Also, I like the ring a lot. I feel the ring is actually my favorite now. I’m more confident in the ring, I feel less nervous compared to when I compete in the Circle.
ONE: Did Sunoto come out the way you predicted he would?
MA: Yes. I feel like he started the match was just how I predicted it to be. He was going to strike and immediately shoot for that takedown.
I saw it coming, and we had a plan to stop all the areas where he wanted to dominate.
After the first round, Mike Ikilei and Gianni Subba told me that I was doing a good job, but I just needed to do more stuff – just continue doing all the same things, but at a higher pace.
I think I did well in [the grappling] departments. He is a pretty strong guy for this division. I just feel that he doesn’t have that much [in his] arsenal on the ground. When I defended his first attack, I knew he wouldn’t be following up with anything else.
ONE: How would you describe the second round?
MA: I feel like I could’ve pushed him more in the second round and finished him if I wanted to.
At the end of the second round, Mike just told me that I’m having fun out there, and he just wanted me to continue having fun. He didn’t say anything to pressure me.
With Mike, its always wise words. He told me that I was winning the fight, and to just show what we wanted to show.
ONE: Were you happier about what you did in the final round?
MA: I was. I started the round similar to the second round. I only let loose in the last minute of the final round, and it definitely shook him. I could have finished him, but it was too late.
ONE: Were you certain of victory after that?
MA: After the fight, you really don’t think too much. It feels like you’re just caught in a moment.
I felt like he did hit me with a couple of good shots, he took me down twice, and I didn’t land any big shots on him. So I was nervous. Anything can happen when it reaches the judges’ scorecards.
I was really happy after they raised my hand in victory. I was really nervous before the fight. The only thing I told myself before the fight was that if I put in 15 minutes of good work, I can enjoy the rest of the night until the next training session.
ONE: Do you regret not attempting to finish him in the earlier rounds?
MA: I had a slight regret to not have finished him earlier in the match. I was thinking about multiple ways to finish him while we were in the ring, but at the end of the day, I won, so all I can do is learn.
When you’re not happy with something, you don’t lose anything from it. Instead, you just learn from it. The next time against a better opponent, I will be ready. Whether it’s a higher-paced match or not. Honestly, it’s not so much of a regret.
After the fight, I was really disappointed. I told [my coaches] I didn’t think that was a really good performance, but Gianni and Mike said that was a good performance, and that I should be proud of myself.
They also told me to not think about the negative, and that I didn’t lose any second or any exchange of that match.
ONE: How did it feel to compete on such a stacked card in Manila?
MA: That was the first win for Bali MMA in Manila. I love fighting in Manila, and I would love to fight there again.
Plus competing on the same card with Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, and Yushin Okami was something special. I grew up watching these guys, so it’s pretty crazy to see them during the fight week. I was also talking to Demetrious, he’s such an amazing and super cool dude.
ONE: How much support did you get from back home in Malaysia?
MA: I would like to thank the Malaysian fans for supporting me. Whoever that messaged me before or after the fight, I would like to say thank you.
I may not have replied to everybody, but I saw every single message. If you guys sent me a message, don’t worry, I read all of them!
ONE: Who do you want to face next?
MA: I’m just trying to get better at what I do. I’ll take whoever ONE gives me.
My goal right now is not to call any names out, but just to improve my skills. When my skills are better, I can take on anybody.