Indonesia’s Stefer Rahardian has experienced a lightning-quick ascent up ONE Championship’s bantamweight ladder, ever since appearing in the premier Asian MMA organization nearly eight months ago.
On Friday Night, 21 April, the undefeated submission specialist has a chance to climb even higher. The Jakarta native will fight Filipino hard-hitter Eugene Toquero at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY, live from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila.
In this classic striker versus grappler contest, Rahardian is far from worried about the experience gap coming into the bout. Toquero is a battle-tested veteran who will be fighting for the thirteenth time, while this is the Indonesian’s sixth professional bout. Adding to the adversity, the contest takes place on Toquero’s home turf.
Although it seems like the 36-year-old Manila resident has a bit of an edge, Rahardian counters that notion.
“I am on a five-fight win streak, while [Toquero] is on the first losing streak of his career,” he points out, bluntly.
Indeed, the man hailing from Jakarta has plenty of reasons to feel confident. Since making his professional debut in 2015, he has yet to lose. He holds a perfect 5-0 record, and three of his wins, including two to become the ONE Indonesia Flyweight Tournament Champion, came by rear-naked choke. His most recent, a clash with Jerome S. Paye at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER in January, was a decision victory.
While Toquero is the more proficient striker, he has struggled on the ground recently, and that dropped his record to 8-4. Both of his previous two losses came by way of submission. Rahardian, by contrast, is honing his ground skills every day. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt under Carlson Gracie, he now splits his time between Bali MMA and Jakarta MMA.
Even though the Indonesian does not believe he will run through Toquero, he knows where his strengths are, and is well-prepared to avoid the trappings of standing with a man who packs a powerful punch.
“I have confidence not only in my BJJ, but in my MMA game as a whole,” he explains. “I would not be so cocky to say that I will take him down and submit him. Anything can happen in MMA, and Eugene has hard hands, and I mean hard!
“Seven out of his eight wins are by knockout. That is something I need to watch out for, and obviously, even if I want to take him down and try to submit him, he is not going to stand on the spot and let me have my way without a hard fight.”
In order for Rahardian to remain successful, both in the short term and the long term, he needs to move at the same rapid pace that the sport moves. With mixed martial arts constantly evolving, he is trying to keep up with the latest training methods and put more effective techniques into his arsenal.
“I understand that professional sports have continually evolved, and the bars are being raised all the time. I find that the bars for professional MMA have risen at a faster rate, and the higher level that you are at, the faster the evolution is,” he says.
“For example, when I saw the fights at [ONE: QUEST FOR POWER] recently and compared them to the event in Jakarta in 2012, when ONE first came to the city, [the quality] has gone up by leaps and bounds. Those who do not evolve, or even keep up with the evolution, will eventually get taken out.”