The ONE Fighting Championship debut in Jakarta on Saturday night showed that mixed martial arts competitions still had a huge following in the country.
An estimated 4,500 fans came to Sports Mall Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta to watch 10 fights that ended just after midnight.
It was the first such competition in the country since the TPI Fighting Championship was scrapped in 2005 after the Indonesian MMA Organization (OMI) and the Indonesian Martial Arts Federation (FOBI) failed to secure enough sponsorship despite the sport’s popularity.
ONE FC chief executive and owner Victor Cui said he was delighted to see so many fans.
“Tonight, fight fans in Jakarta got a glimpse of exactly why MMA is the fastest-growing sport on the planet. The fights were fantastic and had a little bit of everything: submissions, knockouts and some real battles,” he said.
He promised to stage another event in Jakarta later this year.
“I want something bigger,” Cui said, although he refused to reveal details of the potential upcoming event.
The evening was also successful for local fighter Youne “Indra” Victorio Senduk, who recovered from a shaky start to win his first MMA bout after seven years.
Indra won by TKO after Raymond Tiew of Malaysia could not continue the fight because of a knee injury he suffered in the fourth minute of the first round.
“I was a bit shaky at the start so [Tiew] could land punches easily on me in the first minute,” said Indra, a national wushu team athlete who won silver in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.
“But thanks to the fans who were supporting me throughout the fight so I could come back and win the bout.”
However, his compatriot Ngabdi Mulyadi fell in his bout against Peter Davis, another Malaysian fighter.
In an all-Indonesian bout, veteran fighter Zuli Silawanto knocked out Agus Nanang just 45 seconds into the first round.
Fans cheered nonstop throughout the bouts.
“It was a great competition and, hopefully, there will be more of such events here in the future,” actor and MMA fan Nicholas Saputra said. “Unfortunately for me, I missed Indra’s fight because I was late.”
For local MMA practitioners, the event would be a good start to revive the sport in the country.
“This could inspire others to stage more MMA events here and that will trigger martial arts’ spring as lots of local fighters will believe that the sport has a good future,” former national taekwondo athlete Lam Ting said.
ONE FC’s next event, its third overall, is scheduled for March 31 in Singapore.
Felipe Enomoto def. Ole Laursen via submission; Bae Young-kwon def. Honorio Banario via submission; Rustam Khabilov def. Rodrigo Ribeiro via unanimous decision; Gustavo Falciroli def. Soo Chul-kim via submission; Rolles Gracie def. Bob Sapp via submission; Victorio Senduk def. Raymond Tiew via TKO; Geje Eustaquio def. Alex Silva via unanimous decision; Irshaad Sayed def. Jessie Rafols via KO; Peter Davis def. Ngabdi Mulyadi via submission; Zuli Silawanto def. Agus Nanang via TKO.