Though he admits he was a little apprehensive ahead of his clash with Egi Rozten in Jakarta, the 25-year-old from Depok showed no signs of jitters as he took his rival down and submitted him inside three minutes. What made it more impressive is that it was his first bout after a 22-month layoff.
It was his third first-round finish from four professional victories and marked him as one to watch in the stacked flyweight division.
Fajar may be new to The Home Of Martial Arts, but he arrived with an impressive résumé.
He is an Indonesian mixed martial arts champion, combat sambo silver medalist at the Asian Games, and 2019 SEA Games combat sambo gold medalist thanks to his defeat of former ONE Strawweight World Title challenger Rene “The Challenger” Catalan in the final.
Now, as he explains following his breakout moment, he is ready to take on the best in the business on the global stage.
ONE Championship: How does it feel to win in your debut in front of the home crowd?
Fajar: I am not quite satisfied, because it was a bit rushed, but I am grateful that I did not disappoint my friends and my family because they were all here to watch me fight.
I want to dedicate this win to my late mother and also my father who watched me fight in the stadium.
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ONE: How did you react to the atmosphere your compatriots created?
F: It felt different because this was an international-level fight, so it gave me a certain degree of pride and also pressure.
I felt nervous at first because that was my ONE Championship debut, after all, and it was the opening bout of the event. It’s also my first time competing inside a ring under mixed martial arts rules.
I felt something different. However, I tried to stay focused and I think I prepared well, so I overcame all the nerves.
ONE: How much did you want to test your striking against him before you shot for a takedown?
F: I wanted to read the situation first because he is known for his sharp punches. If I directly went for a takedown, he would have anticipated that.
Ground fighting is my thing, particularly single-leg and double-leg takedowns, so I lured him in first and I saw a hole in his defense, then I went for a takedown. Thank God it worked well.
ONE: Was it your intention to go with ground and pound or did you actually look for a submission?
F: I was initially looking for a submission, but his movement made me reluctant.
He was lying on the ground, but I couldn’t see the possibility of locking his arm or neck, so I preferred ground and pound.
ONE: Now you are off to a flying start, is there anyone at flyweight you want to face in the near future?
F: I am not the kind of person who picks or calls out any opponent, particularly because I am new in ONE, but if offered, God willing, I am ready to face anyone.
When competing in a world stage like this, there is no way I can refuse any assignment to fight. My target by the end of this year is to face the top athletes in the division. It could be anyone, including former titleholders.
ONE: You have just shown your potential, so what is your plan to rise to the same level as the top athletes in this stacked division?
F: Definitely I will keep training and I will sharpen up my striking skills. I will train hard in wrestling and I will work hard to improve those skills, too. I will train hard to improve all aspects.
One thing is for sure, I am training with the people that will always support me. I want to keep training with people who are way above me.
For this particular fight, I was training out of Bali MMA, but I represented BSA Martial Arts. I will take my regular practice in BSA, but there is a huge possibility to go back to Bali MMA immediately.