: It is every amateur mixed martial artists’ dream to turn professional and represent their respective nation doing what they love the most.
Some may have rushed a bit too early to chase their ambition, but Negeri Sembilan’s “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman knew that patience was going to help him prosper.
After competing in the professional circuit for four years, Aiman pointed out at his pre-ONE Championship days as a time which gifted him important knowledge to lead the career of a professional martial artist.
“If I would have turned pro right away, I wouldn’t feel as comfortable in the cage. Fighting amateur was much better, and I started pretty young for a mixed martial artist back then. I’m really glad I didn’t rush turning pro,” he said.
“Maybe some guys could go without it and be as good. But for me, I’m glad I have my amateur experience, and I definitely have some advantages [because of it].”
“I’m really happy because fighting pro is so much different,” Aiman shared ahead of his ninth professional appearance against Sunoto at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on Friday, 2 August.
Just like most Malaysian warriors competing at ONE, Aiman started his line at Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts (MIMMA).
Even then, the young and wiry Aiman already had his sights set on claiming the biggest prize on offer in the Malaysian amateur scene – the MIMMA championship belt. But it didn’t come that easily.
“I wanted to win MIMMA [before turning pro], and I lost once, so I kept doing MIMMA until I won.”
He began his pursuit during MIMMA’s inaugural season in 2013, however, he suffered his only amateur defeat in the finale.
The second season provided him with another hurdle, as he missed weight in the final. During that time, Aiman felt that he should have made the switch to professional, but his coach advised him against it.
“I talked to my coach back then, and my coach [at the time] was Roger Huerta. He said, ‘Stay amateur, you’re still young. Just fight amateur another year, and maybe you can turn pro, maybe not. We’ll see’.
“I did what he asked me to do. I fought MIMMA for another year, and this time, I won. After that, I just turned pro. It was a really good experience.”