Eko Roni Saputra is coming off back to back ONE Championship wins. The Indonesian has finished his last two opponents in the opening round and had a lot of momentum behind him.
Saputra is set to face Malaysia’s Murugan Silvarajoo at ONE: ‘Reign of Dynasties’ next Friday and keeping up this momentum is very much on his mind,
“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,” he said.
His promotional debut did not go according to plan. Saputra was knocked out by Niko Soe at ONE: ‘Roots of Honor’ last year.
He bounced back to win his next two bouts but knows that debut loss leaves him in a precarious position,
“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 represented his country as a wrestler. But he is based full time at Evolve MMA in Singapore and says he has been working on his weaknesses,
“We will start it in a stand-up position, so we’ll strike a lot. Coach Siyar told me that I’d improved my striking capabilities, and maybe I will need to show that.”
Bread and butter
But wrestling will always be the Indonesian’s bread and butter and he won’t hesitate to take the fight down if a suitable opportunity arises,
“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.”
His opponent is something of an unknown quantity. The Malaysian will be making his ONE Championship debut but reportedly has a background in boxing.
If Silvarajoo does find himself getting taken down early than the Malaysian can’t claim he wasn’t warned,
“Wrestling is already in my DNA, so I guess I’ll just focus on what I can do,” Saputra said.
Saputra said he learned a valuable lesson from that devastating debut defeat,
“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.”
However Saputra admits to feeling under pressure from fans to prove that he isn’t totally reliant on his wrestling,
“If I can win in a stand-up fight, then that would be great. My previous win 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.”