On Saturday, 29 July, “The Terminator” Sunoto may rightly expect a hero’s welcome.
The 32-year-old will be surrounded by his countrymen when he steps into the cage to meet Rocky “The Outlaw” Batolbatol at ONE: CONQUEST OF KINGS. The massive event takes place at the GOR Kertajaya Arena in his hometown of Surabaya, Indonesia.
While the crowd will be packed with his compatriots, as well as his wife, his 2-year-old daughter, and his taekwondo gym-mates from his childhood days, there will be one man in attendance who will be cheering just a little harder than the rest.
“My dad will be in the audience for the first time. He will travel the 150 kilometres to watch the fight,” the bantamweight says. “He is very excited to watch. He is really supportive.”
It was not always like this. When Sunoto, who grew up in a town outside Surabaya, first started out in martial arts, his family was worried that he would get injured.
Against their wishes, he began his training as a little boy eager to keep bullies away. “I was always the smallest guy. I got bullied a lot,” he recalls. “My nickname used to be “tulang’ which means ‘bones’, because I was so skinny.”
The future “Terminator” started out with taekwondo, and later learned wushu and jiu-jitsu. He went on to become a WKF Indonesian Champion, and made his official mixed martial arts debut in September 2013, in which he was victorious.
Ever since then, he has compiled a professional record of 6-3, and is most recently coming off a big first-round TKO win over Chan Heng at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER earlier this year in Jakarta. Success has a funny way of making an argument stronger. With the exception of his mom, who remains wary, the family is fully behind with his career choice.
“Now my family accepts martial because they know it is my passion,” he says. “And they see I support my family with it.”
Sunoto may now be making a living for his family through his bantamweight campaign in ONE Championship, but he has other dreams he wants to chase, and other combat sports he wants to conquer.
His immediate goal is to defeat Filipino striker Rocky “The Outlaw” Batolbatol at ONE: CONQUEST OF KINGS, but after that, he will turn his undivided attention to his sambo training. Sunoto will be part of the national team representing Indonesia at the Asian Games in August 2018.
After that, Sunoto and manager Adri Kumara will be aiming for a world title fight. “He is the most active Indonesian fighter,” Kumara states. “This will be his eighth fight in ONE. After the Asian Games, we are going to get fights and work our way to a title shot.”
Sambo training will go a long way towards achieving both his long-term goal of being a world champion, as well as his immediate task of defeating Batolbatol.
Up in the highlands of Puncak about 100 kilometres outside of Jakarta, daily training starts at 5am, and consists of roughly three hours of conditioning. From there, the focus is on technical work, which lasts through much of the middle of the day.
The afternoon is reserved for mat time, which is devoted to wrestling, grappling, and throws. Originating from Russia but based heavily on judo, sambo training gives Sunoto — the veteran on the squad — an extra weapon in his arsenal.
“I am learning a lot of judo throws,” the elite athlete explains. “I am training with real judo guys, and learning about twisting my hip and grappling.”
“The Terminator,” already a relentless striker and a talented submission artist, will bring that new weapon to his contest with Batolbatol, who is desperately trying to get a win. The Filipino boxer is on a three-fight skid, having lost to the top of the featherweight crop including Dutch-Indonesian Anthony Engelen, top prospect Christian Lee, and number one contender Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
Despite how it looks on paper, Sunoto is not underestimating his opponent. “His striking is strong. He has a very strong hook,” he observes. “But he is not training enough for his ground game. I expect him to polish that up, but learning your ground game takes longer than striking.”
On the other hand, the Indonesian reckons he has the wind in his sails. More stamina from hours of sambo training in the mountains and a varied tool kit may give him an advantage.
However, regardless of the result, “The Terminator” Sunoto expects to win, and give give his family, friends, and his father something to remember on 29 July in Surabaya.