Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian is widely viewed as the top Indonesian mixed martial artist in ONE Championship’s strawweight division, but he is not satisfied. Instead, he hopes to sit atop the weight class one day.
The Jakarta-born athlete dreams of earning the ONE Strawweight World Title, but he has seen ONE’s Athlete Rankings and knows there are five contenders and a World Champion standing in his way. What’s more, he has already shared the Circle with two names on that list.
With ONE’s flagship event schedule now resuming, Indonesia’s leading man is preparing for an epic return. Here, Rahardian shares his thoughts on the division’s reigning king and the ranked strawweight athletes he must contend with for a shot at that gold.
ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua ‘The Passion’ Pacio
Stefer Rahardian: Pacio is a well-rounded athlete with a unique skill set, and he also has a strong physique. If we observe the striking and grappling abilities he possesses, I do think that he is top-notch.
“The Passion” has very good striking, and it is complemented with a special skill in grappling defense, as shown when he faced an ultimate grappler like Alex “Little Rock” Silva (in January 2020). He was able to stop a series of grappling attacks from “Little Rock.” He’s the champ [for a reason]!
#1-Ranked Contender Yosuke ‘The Ninja’ Saruta
SR: I believe that Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta has a similar fighting style if compared to Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito. However, Saruta definitely has more power in his hands and can create massive knockouts when facing his opponents.
I believe he is worthy of being named the top contender, and he could have another opportunity to challenge for the ONE Strawweight World Championship.
#2-Ranked Contender Yoshitaka ‘Nobita’ Naito
SR: He is a former ONE Strawweight World Champion who has very good footwork. He also has great agility. Whoever is facing this strong Japanese athlete will need to be very cautious with his grappling and ground game.
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#3-Ranked Contender Rene ‘The Challenger’ Catalan
SR: I sincerely believe that Rene is one of those athletes who will become a legend. He definitely has the experience and massive abilities in striking.
It was amazing and proper to see him have the opportunity for a title shot at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE against Pacio (in November 2019).
Also, based on my previous experience when facing Catalan at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS (when Rahardian suffered his first career loss in July 2018), one of the best features in his performance was his almost-perfect striking ability. In short, I see him as an athlete who possesses great experience throughout his professional mixed martial arts career.
#4-Ranked Contender Alex ‘Little Rock’ Silva
SR: In my humble opinion, Silva is one of the best former ONE Strawweight World Champions, hands down.
From my personal experience when I was matched up with him at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD (in August 2019), he was capable of representing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at its best. You may be able to see it in his previous bouts, as he was really showing the precision embedded in his BJJ techniques to stop his opponents’ movements.
I was very proud to have shared the Circle with Silva, although I have to acknowledge his superiority in that bout. The match was really a special match for me, personally.
#5-Ranked Contender Lito ‘Thunder Kid’ Adiwang
SR: I think this young blood is worth the hype of being on the global stage of ONE Championship, as he previously had a great run and achieved so many things in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series.
Also, when I saw his bouts during his ONE Warrior Series days, Adiwang often gained victories through highlight-reel knockouts or submissions. In conclusion, I do believe that he has earned his spot on the main roster, among the best athletes on the global stage.