When Riski Umar stepped into the cage for his professional debut at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY last September at the Jakarta Convention Center, he soaked in the roaring crowd and the bright lights, and was hooked.
“It was amazing,” recalls the 25-year-old. “There was so much energy. I felt prepared. I had good feelings, and I did not feel nervous at all.”
It has been a meteoric rise for the young striker, who says he lacked purpose and direction in his early life. In fact, he says that drove him to live by himself in the jungle for some excitement.
However, a passion was sparked nine years ago in the living room of his parents’ house in Ternate, Indonesia. His older brother had been studying taekwondo, and taught a 16-year-old Umar spinning back kicks.
“It was really impressive,” he recalls. “I wanted to do it, too. I got good at it pretty quickly.”
Despite that early interest in martial arts, his passion did not burn until 2015, when boredom set in. At that point in his life, Umar and a friend had been running a food stall in Jakarta selling fried chicken and sausages.
To help pass the time, he researched Muay Thai training camps in Bali first, and then Thailand. Inspired by what he saw, he followed through on pursuing martial arts, and visited Bali MMA to train for the first time.
Umar then went to Phuket, where he focused specifically on Muay Thai for nearly four months. In 2015, he felt confident enough to test his Muay Thai skills in a professional setting.
Umar traveled to Chang Mai in Northern Thailand for his first-ever match, but it would not go his way. His original opponent pulled out at the last minute, and the replacement was a lot more experienced, and much bigger, than the 61kg that Umar had weighed in at. While he lost the contest, he went the distance in the five-round affair.
Undeterred, Umar competed a few more times in Muay Thai, experienced success, and returned to Bali MMA to make a career for himself inside of the cage.
Umar, whose friends call him “King Kong” due to his strength, trains five days a week at the premier Indonesian gym, and up to three and a half hours a day. Running, drills, and practice help hone his reflexes, and says that lays the foundation for his secret weapon: the element of surprise.
“I like fast reactions. I like surprising my opponents. It is all about timing,” he continues. “I practice every day. I try to use surprise a lot in my sparring.”
Those reflexes were on display last September, when he made his professional debut opposite Jakarta native Adi Nugroho. In the bout, Umar handily dodged his rival’s strikes, and put in a flashy performance before a powerful knee to the body took Nugroho down for the TKO.
For his upcoming flyweight bout with Batubara at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE, Umar says he likes his chances. He says Batabura is unpredictable, but “King Kong” reckons he can use that to this advantage.
“He is crazy, but that is good. I am crazy, too,” the Bali MMA product states. “I just want to go there and knock him out. If he is really good with his grappling, then maybe I will try and beat him by submission.”
With such confidence, it is evident Umar has come a long way. As he prepares for his second match on the global stage, he does not feel any anxiety.
If anything, he feels at peace inside the cage, and is ready to “surprise” Batabura on 20 January in Jakarta.