He is perhaps the most prolific freestyle wrestler in Indonesian history. Wrestling Champion Eko Roni Saputra from the Evolve Fight Team is a beast of a flyweight, and the Indonesian hero has the skills to prove it.
Making his ONE Championship and professional mixed martial arts debut last April 2019, however, things didn’t go quite as planned. Saputra fell to Singapore’s Niko Soe via doctor’s stoppage after a cut deemed the Indonesian unfit to continue in the first round.
To ordinary fighters, a loss of that nature is no doubt discouraging, perhaps even derailing. But for the 28-year-old Saputra, the experience instead revitalized and gave him extra focus in training.
“Defeat for me is a very valuable experience,” said Saputra.
“As a martial artist, I believe we should embrace our mistakes and learn from them. This is how we grow and develop. I learned a lot from my first bout, and what I need to focus on in my mixed martial arts career.”
Saputra, a multiple-time Indonesian national wrestling champion with a career record of 116-10-0 in the sport, joined the prestigious Evolve Fight Team in Singapore late last year.
Known for his dynamic and technical wrestling style, Saputra loves to overpower his opponents with explosive takedowns. A winner of multiple accolades, including medals in international competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games, Saputra is no doubt a highly-skilled wrestler. But it’s other aspects of his game that Saputra believes he needs to focus on.
Training alongside many of Evolve’s World Champions such as Muay Thai legends Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Saputra has added the necessary striking tools for him to succeed in MMA.
And while Saputra was far from perfect in his professional MMA debut a few months ago, he was more than willing to work closely with his Evolve comrades and take in their analysis of his most recent performance.
“It’s important to know how to take constructive feedback,” said Saputra.
“I listened to my coaches at Evolve, and they’ve always been willing to help me develop my skills. Right now, I feel like I’ve improved a lot, and I can’t wait to showcase what I’ve learned in my next bout.”
Now, Saputra is more than confident he can go out there and pull out a much-needed victory. Many athletes walk through the doors at Evolve looking for answers. Saputra has always been an immense wrestler with great control, but adding the striking aspect to his repertoire may have a great effect on his career moving forward.
The Indonesian superstar moved to Singapore late last year and has enjoyed the experience so far. He continues to look better and better in the cage every day. Guiding his journey are his Evolve teammates, who, just like Saputra, are all experts in their respective fields of practice.
“I am very fortunate to be able to train and hone my skills at Evolve, where there are so many World Champions in various martial arts disciplines,” said Saputra.
“I’ve added Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and boxing to my game, of course, in addition to my wrestling. Being surrounded by so many great athletes here, it’s an invaluable asset for me. I aim to become a complete fighter. That’s what I’m working hard towards.”
Saputra is scheduled to make an appearance on the supporting card of ONE: DAWN OF VALOR, set for Friday, 25 October at the Istora Senayan. He faces the Philippines’ Kaji Ebin in a three-round affair.
Having studied his next opponent extensively, Saputra knows exactly how to approach this next bout and what he needs to do to achieve victory.
“My opponent, Kaji Ebin, may have more experience than me in this sport. And he definitely knows how to use the cage to his advantage. He’s got great combinations, powerful punches, and kicks,” said Saputra.
“But he may lack the skills on the ground. That’s where I believe I have the advantage, and it’s going to show in this match.”
Heading into his second professional mixed martial arts bout, Saputra wants nothing more than to give joy to his hometown fans in Jakarta. A resounding victory in spectacular fashion over Ebin might just do the trick.
Competing back home after migrating to Singapore to train at Evolve, Saputra is excited to step into the ONE Circle bearing the Indonesian flag. Having represented his country internationally in various wrestling tournaments, Saputra is more than happy to represent his great nation once again.
“To all the fans, especially those in my home country, I am very thankful for the support,” Saputra concluded.
“This time around, I will take my time and let the fight come to me. I’ll bank on the skills I’ve carved over the past few months to lead me to victory. I know the crowd will be cheering for me, and I don’t have any plans to let them down. I want to claim victory for my country.”