Indonesian martial arts hero Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian wants to become a force in ONE Championship’s strawweight division.
Since moving down a weight class a few months ago, the Bali MMA product has looked faster and stronger than ever before.
However, for the undefeated 31-year-old athlete to rise up the ranks, he will need to defeat a martial artist he has long admired.
This Friday, 27 July, he will clash with Wushu World Champion Rene “The Challenger” Catalan at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, which takes place at the Mall Of Asia Arena in his opponent’s hometown of Manila, Philippines.
Though Catalan had a rough start to his mixed martial arts career, he quickly turned things around and found a path to success. The 39-year-old Filipino is riding a four-bout win streak, with his most recent victory coming over Peng Xue Wen via second-round TKO at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE in January.
Rahardian has followed Catalan’s career closely, and the BJJ brown belt feels privileged to test his skills against the Manila resident.
“It is a big honor to be fighting him, because he is someone I used to watch before I joined ONE,” the Indonesian hero 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.”
Rahardian began the year with an undefeated record, and a promising future in the flyweight division, but he still decided to make some significant changes in his career.
After spending nearly the past two years decimating his former weight class, which included his capture of the ONE Jakarta Flyweight Tournament Championship in August 2016, the Indonesian decided it was time to switch things up.
The local favorite made a strong first impression in his new division, as he negated his opponent’s stand-up skills and quickly took Kaushik to the canvas before submitting him halfway into the first round.
“Himanshu’s striking was good. That is what stands out for me when I remember that fight,” the grappling sensation explains.
“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.”
That hard work includes shedding a few kilograms and keeping that weight off. The leaner, if not meaner, Rahardian is one with added energy and stamina.
“I am a small Indonesian guy, so this weight class is a natural fit,” he continues.
“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.”
That is not the only change in his life, however. Early in 2018, Rahardian also moved to Bali to train full-time at Bali MMA.
Until then, he split his time between there and his native Jakarta – where he coached at Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA and helped renovate his mother’s house in Matraman, East Jakarta.
His focus was split, but now he is living in the Indonesian paradise, “The Lion” can concentrate on developing his skills on a daily basis, and devote himself to unlocking his inner greatness.
“My coaches said I needed to be here full-time if I want to advance,” he explains.
“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 entirely focused on his career, Rahardian is fearlessly marching forward in his campaign for a ONE Strawweight World Title opportunity. He hopes the changes he has made continue to pay off. Defeating Catalan this Friday would provide further proof that they have.