Adrian “Papua Badboy” Matheis has dreamed about being a mixed martial arts world champion ever since he committed himself to the sport nearly five years ago.
Though his professional career just recently started, he has steadily improved his skills at Tigershark Fighting Academy under the guidance of former ONE Championship welterweight competitor Zuli “The Shark” Silawanto.
To the 23-year-old prospect, Silawanto is more than just a coach. In fact, he serves a mentor and a hero.
“He is the one who has trained me, guided me, gave me the spirit, and was able to see the advantages and disadvantages that will make me a better fighter,” Matheis explains. “He is not only a coach, but also acts as a parent and teacher for me. He always assures me that I can reach my dream.”
That dream continues on Saturday Night, 11 March. The Jakarta, Indonesia, native will return to the cage and fight Thai Wrestling Champion Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM, which takes place live at the Impact Arena in his opponent’s home turf of Bangkok, Thailand.
Kongsrichai holds a 4-3 record and was on an impressive three-fight win streak, that is until he ran into former title contender Joshua Pacio at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD last August. The Filipino strawweight fended off an early attack and submitted him late in the first round via rear-naked choke.
The Thai would love nothing more than to bounce back and snag a victory in front of his compatriots, but Matheis has other plans in mind.
“I see Kongsrichai is a wrestler, very resilient and strong. I am sure he will definitely try to take me down, but all the techniques I have learned have made me better,” he says. “I measured my strength in comparison to my opponent, and I predict I will win this fight.”
For the Indonesian, fighting has always been part of his nature. The son of a farmer and palm oil production worker, Matheis was a self-admitted wild child who grew up in the Papua region of Indonesia. Although he got into occasional fights on the street and found himself in trouble, he mellowed and changed his ways upon realizing his dream of becoming a mixed martial artist in 2012.
The “Papua Badboy” says: “I chose MMA because I wanted a different challenge in martial arts, and MMA proves a man’s courage.” He immediately started training under his hero, Silawanto, at Tigershark, and spent the next couple of years learning a variety of disciplines including Yusikaindo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, and judo.
In addition to his hectic training schedule, Matheis has been attending the Fisheries University in Jakarta (otherwise known as Sekolah Tinggi Perikanan Jakarta) since 2013, and is slated to graduate with his degree this coming August. He has committed himself to getting a degree because he wanted to make his family proud of his academic achievements as well.
While he finishes his education, he can take some comfort knowing that his promising fight career is on solid footing. The young prospect made his debut in Asia’s biggest MMA promotion last August at ONE: TITLES & TITANS as a participant of the ONE Indonesian Strawweight Tournament. He fought two consecutive times that night and won each match by TKO, taking home the title of tournament champion.
Matheis would stumble in his next bout, however. This past January at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER, he fought Rene “The Challenger” Catalan in front of his countrymen at the Jakarta Convention Center, but got exposed in the second round. Instead of rejoicing with his compatriots, he tapped out via rear-naked choke and lost his first match in the organization.
“I made a fatal mistake by not playing to my game plan because I was very nervous, and finally, I could not control myself and my emotions. I did not hear my coach’s instructions from the corner,” Matheis admits. “It was a very valuable experience.”
Now holding a 3-2 record, Matheis will step into the cage to battle Kongsrichai at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM this coming Saturday Night. While he is entering enemy territory, he is planning to leave Bangkok’s Impact Arena with a victory, and hopes to inspire a societal change in his home country.
After all, he has experienced some difficult times in Indonesia’s rougher neighborhoods. Matheis left street fighting for martial arts training and an opportunity to compete in mixed martial arts. By winning in the cage, and continuing to win, the 23-year-old believes he could be the positive influence to help those who are misguided turn their lives around.
“I want to be a world champion in MMA, and give my best for my family and for my nation,” he states. “The eastern region of Indonesia is a hard region. Fighting on the street and violence are common there. I am motivated to show them that it would be better and more useful to have achievements through martial arts than fighting on the streets and hurting each other.”