Indonesia has always been a hotbed for martial arts in Southeast Asia, and the country is starting to produce some excellent athletes. After all, ONE Championship has regularly held blockbuster shows in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta ever since the organization’s second-ever card in 2012.
What’s more, world-class gyms the likes of Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA and Bali MMA have emerged, producing top talents that have been making a name for themselves on the global stage.
Here are four elite Indonesian martial artists that you absolutely have to know about.
One of the hottest talents ever produced in Indonesia, 31-year-old Stefer Rahardian overcame a life filled with hardship growing up. However, his life change when he accompanied a friend to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class in 2008 just to see what it was about. He has been hooked on the “gentle art” ever since, winning multiple grappling tournaments.
An unfortunate leg injury in 2013 delayed his ONE debut until 2016, but as soon as he stepped inside the cage, he demolished the competition. Now coming off a marquee first-round submission victory over Sim Bunsrun, the Jakarta native sports a flawless 7-0 professional record.
Rahardian, the ONE Jakarta Flyweight Tournament Champion 2016, is eagerly anticipating his next challenge at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE against Pakistani athlete Muhammad “The Spider” Imran. The winner will go on to challenge for the ONE Flyweight World Championship.
Sunoto is no stranger to martial arts success. While growing up in Central Java, he tried his hand, and foot, at many different disciplines — including taekwondo, wushu, and traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu. Eventually, he would become the WKF Indonesian Champion.
“The Terminator” is an experienced student of many disciplines, and after heeding the call of the cage, he decided to see how his skills compared against the best martial artists in the world.
The 32-year-old has since made his mark in ONE with an impressive 6-3 record and. in his most recent bout, he scored a first-round TKO over Cambodia’s Chang Heng. At ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE, he draws another Cambodian in Rin Saroth.
Adrian Matheis has always had to battle to survive. In the late 90s, Matheis almost came to an untimely end during a riot, but his mother helped the family flee from the Maluku Islands to nearby Papua, where they started anew.
Despite falling into delinquency in his teenage years, “Papua Badboy,” as he would be called, found calm in martial arts. He studied yusikaindo, and later rounded out his game under national pioneer Zuli “The Shark” Silawanto at the Tigershark Fighting Academy in Jakarta.
However, after capturing the ONE Indonesia Strawweight Tournament Championship last year, the 24-year-old fell on hard times. He experienced a three-bout skid against top contenders in a stacked strawweight division, including a loss to former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke.
Matheis is a proven survivor, and he bounced back in a major way against Phat Soda at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY. Though he is not scheduled for the upcoming event in Jakarta, fans can expect to see him on one of the many Indonesian shows later this year.
At just 25 years old, it is apparent that Riski Umar has a bright and long future in the cage. The Ternate, Indonesia-bred flyweight, who goes by the nickname “King Kong,” had a fairly normal upbringing, but he was always fascinated with the martial arts. That fascination led to his desire to master all disciplines, and one day, enter the cage.
Umar initially started with taekwondo and silat during his childhood. From there, he went to Thailand to study Muay Thai, and then relocated to Bali two years ago, where he has since rounded out his overall game at Bali MMA.
Finally, this past September, he made his professional cage debut at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY. While most rookies have butterflies, it appeared as if “King Kong” had absolutely none. He put his opponent, Adi Nugroho, through a kicking clinic, before earning the TKO just two minutes into the opening stanza with a pair of knees to the body.