Despite moving his way towards contention as a flyweight, Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian now has his sights set on success as a ONE Championship strawweight.
Rahardian has moved down a weight class and looks every bit a potential championship challenger after his impressive debut in his new division.
Rahardian’s next test sees him step into action against an athlete he holds huge respect for.
“The Lion” will take on Rene “The Challenger” Catalan at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS on July 27 in Manila, the Philippines in a bout that could propel him straight into World Title contention.
Catalan is riding a rich vein of form. His four straight wins are sending him to the Mall Of Asia Arena with great confidence.
But Rahardian remains undefeated, and says he’s looking forward to testing his skills against the Filipino veteran.
“It is a big honour to be fighting him because he is someone I used to watch before I joined ONE,” he says.
“He is a serious fighter. He is a wushu star, so I expect him to be a strong striker and strong with his grappling.”
Since dropping from flyweight to strawweight, Rahardian proved his ability with a submission finish of seven-time Indian wushu champion Himanshu Kaushik at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY in Jakarta.
“Himanshu’s striking was good. That is what stands out for me when I remember that fight,” explains Rahardian.
“You just expect your opponent to be the best. Everyone who fights in ONE is a strong athlete, and there is no reason to expect your next opponent would be any different. When you are in the cage, all the hard work is done.”
The hard work includes increased discipline over his weight, but the Indonesian star says the move down has actually improved him as an athlete.
“I am a small Indonesian guy, so this weight class is a natural fit,” he says.
“Going down to strawweight was a smart choice. I have more energy now, but I have to say I am hungry all the time. I cannot eat [like I regularly do], because I have to cut my weight.”
In addition to dropping a weight class, Rahardian has gone all-in with his training, moving to Bali to train full-time at his gym at Bali MMA.
Gone are the days of twin-centre training camps, split between Jakarta and Bali, and now Rahardian has a fixed base for all his coaching and training as he looks to give himself the best possible chance to improve his skills all the way to World Championship level.
“My coaches said I needed to be here full-time if I want to advance,” he reveals.
“It was a great decision. This place feels like a family. Bali MMA takes good care of me. The nutritionist helps me cut my weight, and I am feeling good.”
Now nicely set up with the perfect training camp and competing at his optimal weight class, things are looking up for Rahardian as he looks to continue his winning run all the way to championship gold in ONE.
A win over Catalan would further validate his credentials.