Don Carlo-Clauss may not be a household name for martial arts fans, but he’s a vital component in the success of emerging gym Bali MMA.
The team has been home to top-level martial arts stars including flyweight contender Gianni Subba, former bantamweight world title challenger Andrew Leone, and rising Indonesian star Stefer Rahardian.
Carlo-Clauss has served as head coach to all three, as well as a host of young up-and-comers at Bali MMA, and co-owns the gym alongside the Leone brothers.
This weekend, he’ll be in the corner for Subba, Muhammad Aiman, and Riski Umar, as the Bali MMA trio look to score important victories in the ONE Championship cage at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 9 March.
Before the event, the head coach sat down with ONE Championship to chat about the setup at Bali MMA, as the team continues to grow from strength to strength on the global stage.
For starters, Carlo-Clauss says Bali is a perfect spot as a training base for any athlete looking to achieve success in that part of the world.
“It’s got everything Phuket’s got. It has a cheap cost of living, and a high standard of training,” he said.
“The big thing that separates us is we have amazing, world-class surfing, and I would say the international cuisine is of a higher standard and better here than Phuket.
“Bali is quite a bit bigger than Phuket as far as size of the island, so here you can go up in the mountains, find different beaches and things like that.
“Also, it is a little bit of a different scene here, because there are, like, a hundred gyms in Phuket. The bulk of our business is for people who want to come in, train, and have fun.
“We have beginners and people who have been training for a while, but we have a competition team as well. We keep that separate from the normal classes though.”
Despite being a relatively small team, Bali MMA has achieved notable success, with strong coaching and competition teams. Carlo-Clauss says it’s a major factor behind the team’s fortunes, and that they’re lucky to have found so many good people, so early.
“We were lucky because we came from coaching guys who were already in Southeast Asia and were travellers a bit,” he said.
“And we already came in with two good athletes in the Leone brothers. Then Gianni and Keanu [Subba] were kinda the first ones who were out here from day one. Those two put their trust in us, and we kept that group together. Then [Muhammad] Aiman came out to visit one time, and I just started recruiting him.
“There has been effort on both ends to put together a good team, because you’ve got to have training partners for the guys, and you have to have a certain amount of guys so you can prepare them year around.
“But I will say the guys who are on our team have made the commitment to being here full time, and it has paid off for them, and it has paid off for us too. Our team is not huge, but we have had a core group of guys who had real success.”
The next showcase for Bali MMA comes this weekend at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY, with Subba taking the opportunity to step up from a planned main card bout with Danny Kingad, to a world title eliminator in the main event against Reece McLaren.
Carlo-Clauss says the dynamic will be different in the cage, but says his man is well prepared for the change in opponent.
“It is definitely a different opponent, so you have to shift gears a little bit. But it is still a lot of the same stuff,” he said.
“With Kingad, you have to be ready to clinch and wrestle, and Reece likes to wrestle and clinch as well, so that does not change a lot. He is a little bit more dynamic with his striking, but we think Gianni is better in that area. We are going in with that same mentality — we want to win in every position.
“Gianni has been getting better with every match, especially since he bas been out here training with the Leones, who are BJJ black belts, going day in and day out for four years now. He can compete with anybody.
Our whole team, we are always taking matches on short notice, and we get a lot of opportunities that way.
“Sometimes we get good match-ups and opportunities because our guys are willing to stay ready, willing to shift, and willing to make adjustments on the fly. So we had a lot of success with it.”
Carlo-Clauss will also be cornering Aiman and Umar on the same night. Some may see the challenge of having to work with three athletes on the same card as a tricky one, but Carlo-Clauss says he actually prefers it that way.
“No. I think it is better. I like it,” he said.
“For us, especially, the mood in our gym right now is awesome, because we have guys in the gym preparing together. That makes it easy as a coach, because everyone is excited. Even the guys not competing are excited.
“The practices have had a lot of energy, because, like I said, we have a tight team. When we have a bunch of guys competing, and the rest of the team is here supporting them, it takes the level up, and it is awesome. It always makes it better.
“As far as warming them up and cornering them, that’s easy. We will have extra guys and other teammates there to help out, so for us it is more exciting. And, as a coach, I’d always rather have as many guys on a card as I can.”
With a trio of talented athletes set for action this weekend and more honing their skills back in the gym, Bali MMA is certainly a team to watch as we progress through 2018.