Undefeated Stefer Rahardian now seeks success at strawweight

Undefeated Stefer Rahardian now seeks success at strawweight
PHOTO: Undefeated Stefer Rahardian now seeks success at strawweight

Undefeated Indonesian star Stefer Rahardian has his sights set on ONE Championship gold, but he’s now targeting a title in a new weight division.

Rahardian (8-0) has opted to make the drop down from flyweight to strawweight to further his chances of success, and will make his debut in his new weight class on Saturday night in Jakarta at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY, when he faces Indian wushu exponent Himanshu Kaushik.

Rahardian’s decision to drop down wasn’t caused by any lack of success as a flyweight. Far from it, in fact. He was considered a legitimate contender in that division, but as one of the smallest flyweights on the ONE roster, he felt a drop down would make him physically more competitive.

“My weight is already going down. I cannot eat any more,” said the 31-year-old.

“You need to maintain your condition and your weight. I try to maintain my weight, but it wants to go down. I am small, so my coach asked me [if I wanted to move down], and now we are looking for good opportunities at strawweight.”

Rahardian’s last outing saw him dominate Pakistan’s Muhammad Imran at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE. The contest was a one-sided affair, with Rahardian in the ascendency throughout, but he left the cage frustrated by not earning the finish he felt his dominance should have delivered.

His inability to finish the bout, he said, was a matter of exhaustion.

“When we went to the third round, we were already tired,” he explained.

“My plan was to stay on top of him, and keep punching him with ground and pound. That fight was crazy. I cannot describe in words how tired we were. It was motivation to never let that happen again.”

Determined to make sure his gas tank never runs dry in the final round again, Rahardian went back to his coaches and upgraded his training to a more intensitive approach.

Kicking off his week with 9am sparring at Bali MMA, Rahardian then hits the weights in the afternoon under the watchful eye of coach Don Carlo-Clauss.

Tuesdays see him on the road with fellow Bali MMA teammate and ONE Championship strawweight Riski “King Kong” Umar before pulling on the gloves for 9am Muay Thai sessions, which are then followed by team training at midday.

It’s a punishing regime, and one that Rahardian replicates throughout the week. The number of sessions may not have increased, but the intensity certainly has.

It has all helped prepare him for his bout this weekend, where he takes on Kaushik, a seven-time Indian wushu champion with an eye-catching 71-7 record in the discipline.

He transitioned to the cage in 2013 and reeled off four consecutive wins, but is still relatively new to the cage in terms of bout experience.

Nonetheless, Rahardian is determined not to look past his opponent, despite having championship ambitions for later in the year and beyond.

“Every time I fight, ever since I started in local fights in Jakarta, I tell myself, ‘Alright, do not underestimate your opponent,’” he explained.

“I need to keep training hard. No matter what, I have to give 100 percent.”

With a hometown crowd set to roar him on and a new training regime seemingly shaping him into a leaner athlete with a deeper gas tank, Rahardian will look to make a big impression on his divisional debut as he plays a support act to the strawweight world title later that same evening.

And if he produces an eye-catching performance, maybe Rahardian’s next bout at strawweight could be for the title itself.

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