A new year means new horizons and, with plans to break into ONE Championship’s top-five flyweight rankings at the forefront, Eko Roni Saputra is pulling out all the stops.
The Indonesian star will return for his first bout of 2023 this Friday, February 24, when he meets Team Lakay standout and promotional mainstay Danny “The King” Kingad at ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II.
Saputra’s destruction en route to the pinnacle of the flyweight division has been an impressive one so far. Having lost his MMA debut four years back, the Indonesian wrestling machine has since won seven straight matches — all having never left the first round.
That streak was increased last October, as he thrashed popular Thai star Yodkaikaew Fairtex within three minutes.
With all that success and momentum behind him, fans may wonder why he has undertaken new tutelage at Evolve MMA in Singapore.
In answering that question, the freestyle wrestling champion feels that as his performances and opposition reach a new height, his training and preparation must exceed its previous capacity.
“I am not the person to say anything about the coaches because the Evolve coaches are the best. Surely, every coach has different characters, from Siyar [Bahadurzada] to Adam [Kayoom]. I am only executing their training regimes,” he said.
“We are athletes. We must follow our coaches, whoever he is. This is all purely about training, and I can’t say that I don’t like this one, or I don’t like that one, because if I do that, I wouldn’t have progressed.”
In entering new territory at ONE Fight Night 7 against the promotion’s #3-ranked flyweight contender, Kingad, Saputra continues to hone his bread and butter, with the further addition of improving his submission abilities.
While his recent streak of victories is enough to give him confidence ahead of Friday’s collision, the Indonesian standout is remaining grounded in his approach.
“I have developed a way of thinking to always combine things, like BJJ and MMA. Because pure BJJ or pure MMA alone would not be good,” Saputra detailed.
“Pure wrestling is also not good, so it’s always wrestling-MMA.”
While Saputra isn’t attempting to look past Kingad – who undoubtedly offers the Evolve MMA product his sternest test yet – he does have his eyes on former ONE flyweight world champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes.
The Brazilian supposedly took to social media last year to criticize the Indonesian’s caliber of opposition, and while “Mikinho” may have deleted his opinion, Saputra wants an opportunity to make the ex-divisional king eat his words.
“After my next fight, I want to call him out. Because he underestimated me, I want to prove myself to him, I will make him sleep as fast as I can,” the Indonesian flyweight asserted.
“I think, let everyone else say that I have a great ambition to go against Moraes, but I am confident. I will put him to sleep as soon as possible.”