Malaysia’s “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman (5-2) has his eyes set on a fourth consecutive victory at ONE: HEART OF THE LION on Friday, 9 November.
The Malaysian athlete has never been on hotter form, with back-to-back victories against China’s Yang Fei, and Cambodia’s Rin Saroth.
To top it off, he picked up a stunning rear-naked choke victory over Chen Lei at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON in September.
How will he fare when he comes up against the experienced Japanese martial artist Shuya Kamikubo (8-1-1) at Singapore Indoor Stadium?
“The Jungle Cat’s” Prowess
The 23-year-old Malaysian has shown tenacious striking in most of his bouts.
With a boxing background, he is known for throwing ferocious combinations inside the ONE Championship cage.
Aiman has come a long way in his stand-up game, demonstrating good ring control, and punishing his opponents with leg kicks.
His effective use of feints to set up kicks and combinations is an indicator of his experience, and his constant efforts to become a more well-rounded martial artist.
Both Rin Saroth and Yang Fei paid the price when they fell for “Jungle Cat’s” deadly traps.
“The Stealth’s” Stand up?
A major concern for every grappler is being able to sufficiently sharpen their striking skills to match their ground game.
Kamikubo’s main strategy in his recent matches has always been to pair up his one-two combos with takedowns.
He has managed to pull this off exceptionally well against opponents like Ryo Iseki and Sunoto Peringkat.
However, a change of strategy may be needed if he is to go up against someone like Aiman, who knows how to control and create distance well.
Defense, the best offense?
Aiman has been determined to improve his wrestling since his loss against Danny Kingad in 2017, training with the likes of the Leone Brothers, and their head coach Don Carlo-Clauss.
The Bali MMA man’s efforts have been fruitful thus far, successfully defending the takedowns of Chen Lei and Yang Fei in recent contests.
On the Mat
Inspired by the legendary Shinya Aoki, Kamikubo’s venture into mixed martial arts began with judo, and it is highly influential in his style.
As a strong judoka, the Japanese athlete’s biggest advantages come in the clinch, and by controlling position on the ground.
In his battle against Ryo Iseki, Kamikubo repeatedly secured the clinch and triangled his opponent’s legs after the takedowns.
Aiman may find himself on the back foot and instantly defending the smothering game of his adversary.
On the face of it, this seems to be a classic striker versus grappler match up.
Aiman may look to exploit Kamikubo’s one-dimensionality with his range and striking output.
On the other hand, the Japanese man’s chances of shattering Aiman’s hat-trick of wins would be higher if the bout ends up on the ground.