Indonesia’s top talent in MMA, Fransino Tirta, is set as the main event with Jens Pulver at One Fighting Championship – Odyssey of Champions in Jakarta on 14 February, 2015.
Tirta’s fight career has seen an impressive winning streak at 16-0-1, and beyond that, all his finishes were well-balanced between submissions and knockouts which proves that he is a well-rounded fighter. He honed his versatility by participating in several tournaments throughout his career as a martial artist and is well-versed in Tae Kwan Do, wrestling, Brazilian jiujitsu, boxing and Wushu sanda.
In this most recent interview with Tirta, he was clear that he was not going to let anyone put a dent in that record even if he had to face someone like Pulver, with more fight experience. In fact, he kickstarted this interview by stating,
“Fransino is a force to be reckoned with in the bantamweight division of ONE Fighting Championship.”
MMA-In-Asia: What has transpired for you recently?
Fransino Tirta: I am a black belt in BJJ under Niko Han, Synergy MMA. I am also a trainer and recently, I established my own gym called Pitbull Academy at Gading Serpong.
MMA-In-Asia: What has been the impetus for your pursuit of martial arts?
Fransino Tirta: When I was much younger, I was always inspired by martial arts-themed movies like Blood Sport, and any other movies which featured Bruce Lee. They were my earliest inspirations that planted the seed of my interest in martial arts. Martial arts has always been part of my life and my passion that I cannot live without.
MMA-In-Asia: What inspired you to get into the sport of MMA?
Fransino Tirta: I was really inspired with the sport of MMA ever since I watched Royce Gracie’s fights. I was playing soccer and got into a fight then. The guy had me in a headlock position and I didn’t know what to do. I felt trapped. That same evening, I watched Royce in a fight and he was caught in a similar headlock position but the difference was that he knew what to do and how to get out of it, and he defeated his opponent in that instant. That was when I decided to learn jiujitsu. At that time, MMA was still quite new in Indonesia and my instructor competed in an MMA fight. Unfortunately, he lost that fight. As his student, I felt obligated to “avenge” his lost. That was when I decided to compete in MMA professionally. There have been so many people since who have helped me through my journey towards my goals, but my biggest credit should really go to my coach Niko Han.
MMA-In-Asia: What was your martial arts base and how did it evolve?
Fransino Tirta: In the beginning I learnt Taekwondo, Japanese jujitsu, wrestling, and BJJ because I was really good at grappling. So I would consider grappling as my base martial arts. Later, I started training in boxing and kickboxing and gradually got very good at these too.
” The next best thing before becoming a world champion is to beat a former world champion, right?”
MMA-In-Asia: You have proven yourself to be a very skilled fighter on the ground as well as on your feet. Between grappling and striking, which do you think is your biggest strength?
Fransino Tirta: I really think that my grappling and striking are at the same level, if I can out-strike my opponents I will do it. If not, I will take them to the ground.
MMA-In-Asia: What competitive advantage do you bring into the cage that made you undefeated, and the number one-ranked MMA fighter in Indonesia?
Fransino Tirta: I am a hard worker. I train very hard and I train daily. I am also very hungry when it comes to my determination to win at every fight without exception.
MMA-In-Asia: Of all the 16 fights you have had, which one was your best fight and why?
Fransino Tirta: My fight against Wu ChengJie would be my best fight because it was a showcase of how I had evolved from being a wild fighter into a more calm and strategic fighter.
MMA-In-Asia: Which one was the most difficult fight? Was it the one you drew against Dai Shuang Hai at Art Of War 8 in China in 2007? What did you learn from the most difficult fight?
Fransino Tirta: Yes, I think my fight with him was my most difficult fight. When I fought him I wasn’t a full-time fighter yet. Then, fighting was just my hobby. Since that fight I realized that if I wanted to keep up with the highest level of skills and experience, I had to be a full-time fighter and make it my career.
MMA-In-Asia: This upcoming fight against Jens Pulver is your second performance with ONE FC in front of your home crowd. What are your personal thoughts on fighting on home ground? Any pressures?
Fransino Tirta: Fighting in front of my home crowd gives me a lot of pressure but I am used to this pressure as it motivates me to fight harder and stronger. At my last fight in Jakarta I was electrified with the resounding support from my people. It energized me like I have never felt before and I am very sure it will be the same at my next fight.
MMA-In-Asia: What are your thoughts about your upcoming opponent Jens Pulver, seeing that the latter has significantly more fight experience with a 27-19 pro record?
Fransino Tirta: It is an honour for me to fight him as he is a legend in the sport. This will be my chance to show the world that I have what it takes to be world champion. The next best thing before becoming a world champion is to beat a former world champion, right?
“Leave your ego at the doorstep of your gym. The sport has no place for egos.”
MMA-In-Asia: This fight will be huge as it has gotten Jens out of retirement to fight you. How confident are you about continuing your winning streak with his defeat?
Fransino Tirta: I am definitely very confident. I wouldn’t take a fight where I don’t think I can win. In fact, with my Indonesian people behind me, watching me fight, I am even more confident that I will defeat Jens because I will be putting in my entire heart and soul into winning and making my people proud.
MMA-In-Asia: How have you been stepping up your training in preparation for the upcoming fight?
Fransino Tirta: I stepped everything up, my strength and conditioning, my striking, grappling, BJJ, nutrition, the whole package of fight preparation has had its bar raised by 200%. I’m now stronger, faster and smarter than I was at my previous fight.
MMA-In-Asia: How about diet and nutrition? What special care are you taking to ensure you are fueling for the fight and is weight-cut generally difficult for you?
Fransino Tirta: I am very lucky to have Cituy as my personal nutritionist. She prepares all my meals to ensure that I get the optimum nutrients to fuel my training efforts. I actually started enjoying eating healthy too. My experience with the last weight cut was not too bad. It was not too difficult a struggle.
MMA-In-Asia: Fransino, can you tell us more about your new academy, Pitbull Academy, that you recently opened and share some tips on how you juggle between training your students and training for your upcoming fight?
Fransino Tirta: Pitbull Academy is built to facilitate those who desire good, comprehensive and well-rounded MMA training. In Indonesia we do not really have complete MMA gyms. Usually strikers and grapplers just do not mix. At Pitbull Academy we have everything, boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, BJJ. I do juggle between training and teaching but it is not difficult because I tend to design my teaching in a way that helps my students to learn to defeat me. That way, I can also train while teaching at the same time.
MMA-In-Asia: In your fight career, who has been your greatest inspiration? Why?
Fransino Tirta: My greatest inspiration would be my students and fans, simply because I want to set a good example to them in terms of being a good fighter.
MMA-In-Asia: Do you have a favourite MMA fighter?
Fransino Tirta: I have many favorites, Jon Jones, DC, Cruz, TJ, Machida, I can’t simply pinpoint one.
MMA-In-Asia: What words of advice would you give up and coming Indonesian MMA fighters aspiring to follow in your footsteps?
Fransino Tirta: I believe strongly that if you want to be the best, then you need to train with the best. Secondly, be flexible and adaptable. Good strikers must train hard in wrestling, and good grapplers must train hard in striking. It is, after all, MMA. Finally, leave your ego at the doorstep of your gym. The sport has no place for egos.