After a rough start to her mixed martial arts career, Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol is finally hitting her stride.
The Indonesian wushu warrior has kicked off 2018 with a pair of first-round stoppage victories, and will carry that momentum into her women’s atomweight bout this Saturday, 12 May. She faces Filipina striker Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY, which takes place at the Jakarta Convention Center.
“I have my confidence now,” the 29-year-old says. “Hopefully, I will get the win in my next fight, and that will be three in a row.”
Gaol experienced a tremendous amount of success in wushu. She compiled a dazzling record of 15-5, and captured both a national wushu championship and a SEA Games bronze medal.
However, she had a difficult time transitioning from wushu to the cage, as she lost her first two professional matches in 2017. However, her defeats came at the hands of strong competition – Tiffany “No Chill” Teo and Gina “Conviction” Iniong, who are two of the very best in the world.
The Jakarta native admits a combination of nerves and a lack of grappling experience led to her downfall. Recognizing where her weaknesses and vulnerabilities lay, she vowed to turn her career around.
In 2018, she has done just that.
Gaol knocked out Audreylaura “Ice Comet” Boniface in front of a hometown crowd in Jakarta in January, and then submitted Filipina debutante Krisna “Phoenix” Limbaga with a straight armbar a month later in Yangon, Myanmar.
Her second victory was particularly impressive, as she displayed the ground game she has spent so much time improving under her coach Zuli Silawanto at Tigershark.
“For the first couple of minutes, I was reading her style. I knew she was a good striker, so when I got a chance to take her down, I took it,” Gaol recalls.
“[The armbar] was reflexive. I did not realize the opponent gave up until the referee stopped it. I knew I won. I was very focused. I wanted to finish it quickly.”
Gaol has the ability to pull off her third consecutive victory this Saturday, as she meets another certified striker in Trinidad.
“The Rebel” is a Philippine national sikaran champion who faced a tough ONE debut last December. Though she was competitive against Thai starlet Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige in her native Bangkok, she succumbed to the hometown hero via rear-naked choke in the second round.
“Thathie,” as the Indonesian is known to her friends and family, watched the Filipina’s last bout, and believes she showed her immense talent even in defeat.
“She is really good at striking. She is not going to be easy to take her down, and she is taller,” Gaol analyzes. “Rome has all the advantages. She will not be an easy opponent.”
While Trinidad will enjoy the height advantage, the Jakartan is intimidated. “I have fought many taller opponents before, so I am not scared,” she adds.
Gaol just wants to improve, and quietly work her way towards the top of the weight class. However, she understands the position she is in, and she is grateful for the opportunities she has.
If she can beat Trinidad and improve to a three-bout win streak, she would further cement her status as Indonesia’s most popular female mixed martial arts star, as well as make a real breakthrough in the women’s atomweight division.