Indonesia’s Eko Roni Saputra is a national wrestling champion with incredible grappling acumen. But after dominating his most recent opponent with his bread and butter mat skills, Saputra is now looking to prove that he can hang with the best of them in the stand-up as well.
Saputra looks to put his improved striking repertoire against ONE Championship newcomer Murugan “Wolverine” Silvarajoo of Malaysia when the two meet at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES, scheduled for Friday, 9 October, live from Singapore.
Similar to what the NBA has done in Orlando, FL for the 2020 NBA Playoffs, ONE Championship has put together a stringent set of protocols to ensure the health and safety of its athletes and staff in it’s own ‘Singapore bubble.’
Indonesia and Malaysia are two of the most proud fighting nations in the world of combat sports and martial arts. Both countries feature a long list of incredible martial arts athletes with immense skill. When Saputra meets Silvarajoo in the Circle, that rivalry will be rehashed.
Saputra is confident, with the amount of work he put into training, that he can come out on top.
“We will start it in a stand-up position, so we’ll strike a lot. Coach Siyar [Bahadurzada] told me that I’d improved my striking capabilities, and maybe I will need to show that,” Saputra told ONE Championship.
“But if it doesn’t work, then I’ll try to take him down because ultimately, I am a wrestler, so I am better at ground fighting. Then again, if I am not careful, I might get punched and knocked out. So, I need to be cautious and read the situation.”
Against Silvarajoo, Saputra will face a former F3 Boxing Champion, who has dangerous hands and is equally skilled on the ground. Saputra knows he has to be careful, and not overcommit to impose his will on the striking end, lest he get caught in a defensive lapse.
Still, Saputra is eager to prove doubters wrong, but also wants to put on a good performance, regardless of where the action takes place.
“I will need to think positively and do my best. I have also learned from my first fight on maintaining control after executing a takedown. I’ve learned from experience to stay calm and read the game,” said Saputra.
“My previous win [against Khon Sichan] was via submission, and I read some comments on social media that it was expected because the ground game is my expertise. So apparently, just getting a quick win was not enough for netizens.
“If I can win in a stand-up fight, then that would be great. But wrestling is already in my DNA, so I guess I’ll just focus on what I can do.”
ONE Championship returns for its next big blockbuster with ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES, scheduled for Friday, 9 October, and once again, the world’s greatest martial artists are ready to take the stage and showcase their incredible skills in the ONE Circle.
In the main event, reigning ONE Strawweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao of Thailand will defend his Muay Thai title against top contender Josh “Timebomb” Tonna of Australia.
A lot is riding on this bout for Saputra. A resounding victory for the Indonesian star will signal him primed and ready for a step up in competition. It will also put his home country of Indonesia back in the spotlight, especially if he can put together a spectacular performance.
On the other side of the spectrum, a defeat would be absolutely devastating.
Saputra knows just how much is at stake, and is looking to make a statement victory, and eventually work his way up to a shot at the ONE World Title, and make Indonesia proud.
“I think it’s essential to keep the momentum going, and this is the step I need to take to earn a title shot eventually,” Saputra concluded.
“So, I’m going step by step. If I was already a top-ranked competitor, then a loss might not be a big problem because I would still be at the top. But for now, what I need to do is improve my rank.”