THE delight that ensued after “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman’s unanimous decision win at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila on Friday, 2 August was understandable.
After an almost nine-month hiatus from the ring, the Negeri Sembilan athlete revved into top gear at the expense of Indonesia’s “The Terminator” Sunoto.
His break seemed to have been well spent, as the Bali MMA standout showed why he is not one to be dismissed in ONE Championship’s bantamweight division.
Despite the euphoria surrounding his win, “Jungle Cat” preferred to play down his triumph, saying, “I could have done a lot more, but I didn’t.”
“I didn’t get to showcase what I really can do. So, I’m a little disappointed,” he added.
Aiman’s steadfastness to improve his martial arts game as a whole has always made him one of the top Malaysian athletes to look out for.
And although he initially did sound a bit disappointed, the 24-year-old remained positive about his sixth career victory.
“That’s not to say I’m not happy that I won - I am. But I feel that I played a far too tentative game against Sunoto,” he said.
“It wasn’t that I feared him. In my mind, I wanted to just let go, take risks, and just finish him off by the second round. I ended up freezing in there, and playing it safe.”
His opposite number started stronger, trying to take the Malaysian athlete to the canvas on three occasions in the first round. Aiman’s takedown defense suppressed Sunoto’s attempts at bringing the contest to the mats throughout the rest of the match.
However, in the latter half of the second and third round, Sunoto began slowing down, and that was when “Jungle Cat” felt he had the upper hand over his foe.
“I spent most of the second round waiting. And I was getting hit a lot, too, by his right hand. It didn’t hurt me or anything. I just stood there and took it all in,” he recalled.
“The third round was my best round. When I heard Mike Ikilei telling me that it’s the third round and I should just go out there and have fun and show what I got, I finally did.”
“But I showed it too late. There wasn’t enough time to show all I had.”
The athlete isn’t letting his disappointment cloud his victory as he hit top gear and returned to winning ways by shutting down “The Terminator” in Manila.