On Friday, 17 May, Singapore-based Indian athlete Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju claimed his first victory in ONE Championship.
The 28-year-old submitted Richard “Notorious” Corminal in the opening bout of ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON, which took place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Raju had an unsuccessful campaign last year when he made his promotional debut, but he finally got into the win column in his first match of 2019.
“I’m feeling very happy to finally get a win in ONE,” he said.
“I’m very thankful for the team and my coaches, and very blessed to be in ONE Championship. I’m even happier that I got the win in Singapore.”
Corminal is known for his striking skills and has a 100 percent finishing rate in his career.
However, that only fueled the Juggernaut Fight Club representative to stand with his Filipino rival and trade punches with him.
“This was the game plan,” Raju, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt, revealed.
“I knew I could easily [overpower him on the ground as] I’m a much better wrestler and BJJ practitioner than him.
“But I wanted to strike with him to prove that I am good everywhere. That’s why I stood with him — I exchanged strikes with him, and I hurt him more.”
It was a dangerous strategy for “The Kerala Krusher.”
While it worked well in the beginning, the Filipino striker was able to clip him with an overhand right off a jumping knee feint, and another quick jab caused Raju to lose his balance twice.
“I wasn’t that hurt, but I got rocked,” he confessed.
“It was a bit shocking, but that was a good experience, and it proved that I got a good chin.”
Once on the ground, Raju quickly recovered and displayed his overwhelming BJJ skills.
He took control of his opponent, slithered methodically onto Corminal’s back, and locked in a rear-naked choke to force the tap with just 17 seconds remaining in the first round.
“There was no game plan on how to finish the fight,” he explained.
“I told my coaches, ‘Wherever it goes, I will be ok with that,’ because I was prepared everywhere.
“For grappling, I’ve been training every day, so I have very strong submission skills now, which I could hopefully showcase a little bit more in my next matches.”
Raju entered the lightweight bout with tons of confidence, and he backed it up with an impressive performance that showcased both his dominance and resilience.
With the victory, he improved his record to 6-4 and will try to build on his newfound momentum.
“I would like to fight very soon, hopefully by the end of July or August,” he shared.
“I’m not in a stage where I can call out anyone, but I am ready for anyone. I will be prepared for any challenge because I have the best team now, and I am blessed to not have any injuries, so let’s do this soon.”