Grappling Ace Saputra Aims To Show Off Striking Vs. Silvarajoo

Eko Roni Saputra at ONE DAWN OF VALOR

Eko Roni Saputra has his eye on the ONE Flyweight World Title, and he can get closer to that lofty goal with a victory on Friday, 9 October.

That evening, the Indonesian star will face F3 Boxing Champion Murugan “Wolverine” Silvarajoo in a 63.5-kilogram catch weight mixed martial arts bout at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES.

“I think it’s essential to keep the momentum going, and this is the step I need to take to earn a title shot eventually,” Saputra says.

“So, I’m going step by step. If I was already a top-ranked competitor, then a loss might not be a big problem because I would still be at the top. But for now, what I need to do is improve my rank.”

Saputra previously dominated the sport of freestyle wrestling, where he compiled a fabulous 116-10 record and earned multiple Indonesian Wrestling Championships.

Then in late 2018, he decided to conquer a new sport – mixed martial arts – and joined the Evolve Fight Team in Singapore, where he’s been adding to his phenomenal grappling background.

That move paid dividends, with Saputra earning dominant first-round victories over Kaji Ebin by TKO and Khon Sichan by submission.

Now, the Indonesian will be tasked with beating a decorated Malaysian boxer who is riding a three-bout winning streak that includes a pair of submissions. What’s more, Saputra will be surrendering a 7-centimeter height advantage to Silvarajoo.

As he prepares for the difficult challenge, Saputra has been developing his strategy with Evolve head coach Siyar Bahadurzada and says he isn’t afraid to throw down with the F3 Boxing Champion.

“We will start it in a stand-up position, so we’ll strike a lot,” Saputra offers. “Coach Siyar told me that I’d improved my striking capabilities, and maybe I will need to show that.

“But if it doesn’t work, then I’ll try to take him down because ultimately, I am a wrestler, so I am better at ground fighting. Then again, if I am not careful, I might get punched and knocked out. So, I need to be cautious and read the situation.”

Though Saputra is a wrestler by nature, he hasn’t been able to work on his bread and butter in recent months.

That’s because COVID-19 restrictions from the Singapore government prohibited grappling sessions in sports facilities.

While it’s not an ideal situation, Saputra is confident that his extensive background and competition experience will help him overcome the hurdle.

“Wrestling is already in my DNA, so I guess I’ll just focus on what I can do,” he says.

“I will need to think positively and do my best. I have also learned from my first fight on maintaining control after executing a takedown. I’ve learned from experience to stay calm and read the game.”

Saputra has also read comments on the Internet that criticize him for relying on grappling while failing to utilize his striking arsenal more often.

With that in mind, he wants to make a statement at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES – and not many statements would be louder than knocking out a decorated boxer like Silvarajoo.

“If I can win in a stand-up fight, then that would be great,” the grappling ace says.

“My previous win [against Khon Sichan] was via submission, and I read some comments on social media that it was expected because the ground game is my expertise. So apparently, just getting a quick win was not enough for netizens.”

Should Saputra earn the victory – especially with a spectacular knockout – he would certainly silence his detractors and take another step toward becoming Indonesia’s first Mixed Martial Arts World Champion.

Read more: The Top Knockouts From The Stars Of ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES

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