If you’re not on the Indonesian MMA hype train yet, get your tickets quickly. One Pride welterweight champion Rudy Gunawan makes his fourth title defense on 6 October, and he will show you exactly what you’ve been missing.
MMA goes way back in the country of Indonesia. PRIDE was an inspiration for a promotion started by a national television company, Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia, which broadcast for three years live as TPI Fighting Championship. Another promotion was born out of politics on the national level as Duel. Sadly, 2005 sounded the death knell for both.
In 2012, ONE Championship held its second ever event in Jakarta in a commitment to open the country up to MMA again. Governing bodies launched into action, and a few other promoters popped up. This set the stage for Indonesia’s most well-known MMA fighter, Fransino Tirta, to jumpstart One Pride and soon he started Fight Nights on Saturdays.
One Pride follows the broadcast method of the earliest MMA in the country: weekly events sponsored by and aired live on national television: TVOne. The title sponsor is Surya PRO, which lends the tagline “PRO never quit”. Ironically, as in “PRIDE never die”. Equally ironic in that it’s a tobacco company. Thus, we have the full name One Pride Pro Never Quit Fight Night.
Hundreds of Indonesian fighters await their crack at MMA fame. One Pride Fight Nights channel these prospects into weight division tournaments, ranking fights, and finally championships.
Rudy Gunawan is one of the products of the system. He went through the welterweight tournament, won, and has defended his belt against successive rankers three times in a row. However, One Pride hasn’t been his only toe dip in MMA. At just 20 years old, Gunawan fought in TPI FC shortly before its demise.
Just recently, Gunawan joined the Indonesian jiu jitsu team for the 2018 Asia Games. The result of his quarterfinals match was 0-2, and he was out of the competition. It was a disappointing finish but a huge honor to be selected to compete. Indonesia was proud to have a combat sports team in the games.
“Atlet Jujitsu Indonesia was all of the jujitsu in Indonesia coming together to bring the name of Indonesia to the Asian Games. In my match, I was paired with the BJJ world champion from Kyrgyzstan. I got a penalty because I couldn’t move to another position so the referee assumed I was stalling. I got penalty and my opponent got point from me.”
When queried on what other BJJ tournaments he’s been involved in to become part of the national team, Gunawan gave a very surprising response.
“I never compete in BJJ competitions. My first time for BJJ competition was the 2018 Asian Games. I’m not a BJJ practitioner. I train self defense with the Institute Jujitsu Indonesia – this is traditional jujitsu.”
The Institute Jujitsu Indonesia website says that Kyushin Ryu jujitsu entered Indonesia during World War II from a Japanese army officer named Ishikawa. Along with striking, throws and grappling, it’s uniquely special for defense forces because it has techniques using jackets, belts, sticks and ropes. Gunawan has become a posterboy for his art.
“I’ve learned jujitsu for 21 years. I’m a fourth degree black belt now. My coach, Harmudianto, is a seventh degree black belt. All of my striking skills are from Institute Jujitsu Indonesia. I learned punching, kicking, takedowns.”
Incidentally, Harmudianto is the same master that Fransino Tirta studied under before his BJJ and MMA careers.
Gunawan is now 9-0 as a professional MMA fighter, and all but two of those wins have been first round knock outs. The other two were won with a first round submission and a second round knock out. He is nothing short of a beast in the cage. Right from the start, Gunawan either runs at or stomps down his opponent, throwing huge bombs at whoever’s head happens to be in front of him until they drop. His facial expression alone is enough to send guys turtling.
His biggest opponent to date was the warhorse Zuli Sulawanto, and he knocked him out in 14 seconds. The fight can be watched on the One Pride YouTube channel, along with almost every other fight.
“I felt so happy because could beat such an experienced fighter. I always learn my weaknesses and practice constantly.”
Gunawan will face his next title challenger on One Pride Fight Night 23 on 6 October. Alwin Kincai is undefeated at 4-0, and he’s also a knock out wizard. Gunawan has watched him come up through the rankings and knows him well.
“For me, Alwin Kincai is a giant. He’s Goliath and I’m David. But I’m sure I can beat the giant with only three small rocks and one slingshot. I think I want to beat him with striking.”
So, fans can expect another devastating performance from Gunawan in his incredible fourth welterweight title defense. Where does he see himself going from here?
“I want to compete in the UFC.”
Seeing as the UFC has its eyes on Asia now, and recently fellow One Pride champion Linda Darrow was awarded a four week scholarship to train at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, Gunawan’s goal is not beyond his (very powerful and devastating) reach.