Stefer Rahardian is driven to succeed in mixed martial arts and all that he pursues.
The ONE Flyweight Indonesian Tournament Champion will attempt to keep his flawless record intact when he meets Jerome S. Paye at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER, which broadcasts live from the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia on Saturday Night, 14 January.
“I have to focus on winning this fight,” says the 30-year-old Rahardian, focusing solely on the task at hand. “Because it means everything to me.”
To do that, the Carlson Gracie brown belt trekked from Jakarta to Bali, and spent much of his time preparing for the upcoming bout at Bali MMA and the gym’s world-class team.
That team features the likes of ONE Flyweight contender Andrew Leone, GLORY Super-Bantamweight Women’s Champion Tiffany Van Soest, and ONE sibling prospects Gianni and Keanu Subba, among many others. There, the tournament champ hopes to continuously push his limits, simply because he wants to be the best.
Rahardian’s martial arts journey began in 2008 when a friend brought him along to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. After the session, he was hooked, and claimed “there was no turning back from that point.”
The Jakarta native stayed dedicated to the gentle art and competed in tournaments as early as 2009, in which he placed second at the Indonesian Submission Championship. He would continue to compete in tournaments, and with MMA gaining prominence in the country, took a few amateur fights before deciding to make a full transition into the sport.
Although his parents were not necessarily comfortable with the idea of their son competing inside the cage, they were very encouraging nonetheless.
“I got my mother worried at times, watching me fight and dealing with the perception of limited opportunity in professional MMA,” he admits. “But once she saw that I was making progress career-wise, she was more supportive of my career choice.”
But in 2013, his plans were put on hold. While training for his ONE Championship debut, he suffered a massive setback.
“My debut back in 2013 had to be postponed because I had a training injury that required knee surgery. That was a long and painful recovery,” he recalls. “It was the most difficult period for me.”
The recovery put him on the shelf for two long, exhausting years. Not only was he rehabbing his knee, but he was overcoming the mental wounds the injury left.
Everything turned around for Rahardian beginning in 2015. He got back in touch with his BJJ roots, and a year later, won the Indonesian Submission Championship in the 65kg weight class.
In addition to that, he placed second in the SEA Grappling Challenge and third in the Asian Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championships’ purple belt division. Those impressive showings, along with his training, earned him a brown belt promotion in BJJ.
Rahardian also made his long-awaited MMA debut that year. Since then, he has won all four of his fights, including two at ONE: TITLES & TITANS last August en route to becoming the ONE Flyweight Indonesian Tournament Champion.
All of those victories serve as a testament to the Jakarta native’s work ethic and his will to succeed.
“I had to work hard to restore the physical and mental side of my game, and with that taken care of and hard work, I have four straight wins,” he says.
“I am thankful that ONE gave me the second chance to get back into the ONE cage when they offered me the Indonesian Tournament, and I am ready to show that I have a lot more to offer.”
Paye, a Jakarta resident by way of Liberia, is a third-degree taekwondo black belt who holds an even 2-2 record. He is known for his aggressive style, which has garnered him the moniker “Rapid Strike The Predator,” or “RSTP” for short.
Though Paye is a dangerous opponent, Rahardian is confident in his talent and has structured his life in such a way that he gets the most out of his training. While he works part-time as a delivery boy to pay the bills, he is an instructor at Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA, and cross-trains with the Leons in Balo.
Shuffling work and the gym could be quite draining, but Rahardian keeps it together because he is focused on both the immediate task at hand and his longterm goals.
“We have to prioritize. My ultimate goal is my MMA career, so I chose a job that can suit my training and fight camp,” he explains. “In 2017, I want to be a better person and improve my skills in MMA and BJJ, so I can keep fighting, competing, and winning.”