Eddey “The Clown” Kalai looked like a different mixed martial artist at ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM this past Saturday, 17 November in Jakarta, Indonesia.
He squared off against the local favorite, Egi Rozten, in a highly competitive strawweight affair.
Displaying a more well-rounded skill set than in his previous two ONE Championship appearances, the Malaysian boxer started off the stronger of the pair.
Just seconds after the opening bell sounded, the Sabah resident hit a takedown and immediately gained side control. He threw a few knees and elbows on the ground, but Rozten was quick to escape.
Kalai continued hunting for takedowns, and even cinched up a tight guillotine choke at one point. However, the regional boxing champion slid out of it, brought the contest back to the feet, and knocked out “The Clown” with an overhand right at 3:15 of the opening round.
“Of course, I’m disappointed with the loss. I dominated the match for a good period. But unfortunately, I got hit with that punch,” the 36-year-old confessed.
“As a true martial artist, in victory or defeat, there’s always room for improvement, and I’ll take some lessons [away] from [this experience].”
Despite falling short in what was an entertaining bout, Kalai feels encouraged.
His mentality and belief remains the same — if not better — and the athlete says he will be returning to the gym shortly.
“It’s still the same schedule for me — rest a couple of days, train harder, and always be ready for a next battle,” he explained.
“I feel like I had a much better performance than in my other two fights, so I’m quite glad. I started off strongly, but got pulled into his game.”
The key for Kalai has been constant improvement.
He is a two-time SEA Games boxing bronze medalist who has been constantly adding wrestling and jiu-jitsu into his arsenal.
While he may not have gotten the results he wanted since making his promotional debut in January, “The Clown” has developed at a fast pace, and has much to look forward to in 2019.
“It’s been a busy period for me,” the Sabah resident said.
“Ever since I got the offer to sign with ONE Championship last year, I have trained harder and harder to be a better athlete in and out of the cage.
“Although I’ve fallen short, I feel that I’ve improved as an athlete just by sharing the stage with some of the world’s best martial artists.”
ONE Championship will wrap up its 2018 events calendar with ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 7 December.