Paul Lumihi Eying Top Bantamweights And Rematch With Sunoto

Jun 23, 2020

Paul “The Great King” Lumihi did not have an ideal start to life in ONE Championship, but the bantamweight warrior believes he can quickly turn his mixed martial arts career around and defeat the top athletes in his division.

Indonesian mixed martial artist Paul Lumihi raises his arms in the air

Last year, Lumihi quickly learned how elite the competition is in The Home Of Martial Arts.

That began in March 2019 when the Indonesian had his seven-bout winning streak snapped in his promotional debut by his compatriot, “The Terminator” Sunoto.

“The Great King” also fell short in his next two bouts and decided to take a brief hiatus to re-evaluate his approach to training.

Then, just as Lumihi was preparing to return, the COVID-19 outbreak forced ONE Championship to postpone its events indefinitely.

Even though the virus has caused some uncertainty among athletes, the bantamweight is making sure to stay ready.

“I’ve always been training. I’ve been preparing myself every day and sharpening the techniques I have so that I do not have to start from zero when I am called at any time for a bout [in ONE],” the 32-year-old says.

“I did ask for a six-month break from the last time I performed [in November 2019], but even then, I had been itching to face another opponent in the Circle.”

Indonesian mixed martial artist Paul Lumihi kicks Zhao Zhi Kang in the stomach

Now that ONE is beginning to hold shows again – which started with two ONE Hero Series events in China this past weekend – Lumihi might soon get the phone call his heart desires.

And when it comes to the Indonesian’s next opponent in the Circle, a pair of names immediately stand out.

“The two top athletes that I have in mind are Andrew Leone and Yusup ‘Maestro’ Saadulaev,” he offers. “Those are some athletes who I would love to face.”

Match-ups with either of those competitors would certainly boost Lumihi’s profile, especially if he emerges victorious. 

Leone is a former ONE Bantamweight World Title challenger who is known for his grappling. Since joining ONE Championship, the Bali-based American has only lost to the bantamweight division’s reigning king, Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, and to former titleholder Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon.

Saadulaev is also quite high in the bantamweight pecking order. The Dagestani grappler is the #3-ranked contender in the division and has won seven of his last eight contests. Should “The Great King” get past him, he could find himself in the ONE Athlete Rankings.

Indonesian mixed martial artist Paul Lumihi and Sunoto stare each other down

However, Lumihi also knows he may not get the chance to fight a top contender when he makes his return.

In that case, the Jakarta native would hope to string a few victories together and then get a second crack at the man who ruined his grand premiere in The Home Of Martial Arts.

“I would love to face Sunoto once again,” Lumihi says. “In the near future, I am planning to win two bouts in ONE Championship before calling out Sunoto once again.”

To get ready for potential future clashes with those three competitors, “The Great King” knows he needs to improve his grappling and ground attack. To do so, he is aiming to leave Indonesia once COVID-19 restrictions ease, with the goal of picking up new tricks.

“I am planning to do cross-training in a gym abroad in order to sharpen my ground skills,” Lumihi says. “There are several gyms I have observed, where I think they might help me in achieving my personal goals.”

If all goes well, Lumihi might just reverse his recent fortunes and finish 2020 on a high note.

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