Paul “The Great King” Lumihi believed a change of scenery was needed in order to score his first victory in ONE Championship.
With that in mind, the Indonesian striker moved to SOMA Fight Club Bali, and he’ll be the first representative from the gym to compete in the organization when he faces Jhanlo Mark “The Machine” Sangiao at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II on Friday, 17 December.
Their bantamweight mixed martial arts clash will kick off the evening’s main card, and “The Great King” knew that cutting corners wasn’t an option when preparing for the Team Lakay phenom, who trains under his famous father in the Philippines.
“The preparation, clearly, is good. I have stayed here for almost two months, so I feel very prepared,” Lumihi says.
“We know Team Lakay is very good. That is why my preparation should be solid before [facing] their team, especially when it’s against [Team Lakay head coach] Mark Sangiao’s son, Jhanlo.”
For his part, Lumihi entered ONE on a seven-bout winning streak, but he’s struggled to convert that success into wins against the high-level competitors in the promotion.
But following his move to Bali – where he works under the tutelage of new coaches – the Indonesian feels ready to get back on track.
“I think that my striking is good, and I’m not too bad in the ground game, but, clearly they are sharpening my ground skills,” he says.
“I also feel that my physical conditioning is improving massively. So, in comparison to my previous bouts, where I did not join any training camp, I feel there are some improvements there. Because I train every day – sometimes three-to-four times a day.”
Inspired by his new surroundings, the 33-year-old Lumihi wants to put on a strong performance to please his new team.
At the same time, he says those coaches and teammates have not added any extra stress leading up to fight night.
“I should win so that they are proud of having me as their first athlete from a new gym. They will surely be very happy,” the Jakarta native offers.
“SOMA did not give a target that I should win, but I really want to prove – at least to myself – that I can win. Although they have not put any pressure on me, winning is a must.
“[A victory] will be the start of my journey to the top. That is why I needed this training camp. To train seriously this time.”
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“The Great King” will have to pass a tough test to get his hand raised, though. He’ll be facing a 19-year-old rising star who holds a 3-0 professional slate and is entering ONE as one of its most highly anticipated new signings.
But Lumihi has gained immeasurable confidence from his move to SOMA, and he believes he’ll get the job done thanks to the high-level instructors and sparring partners at his disposal.
Meanwhile, he expects “The Machine” to implement a grappling-based strategy, and he’s adjusted his own tactics accordingly.
“There is an athlete [at SOMA] who moves like Jhanlo – he is quite agile and he strikes fast. The focus is to anticipate Jhanlo’s movement,” Lumihi says.
“I think Jhanlo is aiming to take me to the ground. I will be ready for that. That is exactly why I have sharpened my ground skills, such as my submissions and takedowns. They are now as sharp as ever.
“If he strikes first, I will have to defend. But if there are any possible openings where I can jump for a takedown, I will take it. I am prepared in any area.”
Given Sangiao’s reputation and pedigree – as the son of an Asian mixed martial arts pioneer – Lumihi knows fans will be watching in droves to see the teen’s big premiere on the global stage.
However, the Indonesian wants to show that he’s not simply cannon fodder for the young Filipino, and he plans to prove that by imposing his will for the full 15 minutes.
“I have a target to fight for the full three rounds. So if I win, it will be by decision,” Lumihi adds.
“I want to dominate every round, where there will be no one saying that the younger one [should have won] because he has more potential.
“But, if there is the slightest chance for a submission or a knockout, I will clearly finish. If this fight goes all the way, I will dominate and win by decision.”