Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju had to endure a series of tough losses to begin his career in ONE Championship, but the Indian lightweight is happy to have finally turned the corner.
In 2019, the Singapore-based Indian was able to pull off two victories in his adopted hometown to break his three-bout skid.
AT ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON in May, Raju claimed victory from the jaws of defeat against Richard “Notorious” Corminal.
Knocked down midway in the first round by a nasty right hook, the Juggernaut Fight Club representative snatched his opponent’s leg and scored a timely takedown. Then, he applied a rear-naked choke to complete his comeback.
This marked the turning point for Raju, and the moment still stands as his highlight of the year.
“After I won my fight against Corminal, it was three long years since I went back to India. I traveled back and celebrated with my family,” he said.
Raju carried this momentum into his match against Furquan “The Lion” Cheema at ONE: EDGE OF GREATNESS in November, where he scored another second-round rear-naked choke submission to start his first winning streak in ONE Championship.
Looking back on the year, “The Kerala Krusher” credits his team at Juggernaut Fight Club for his improved grappling and striking, which proved instrumental in both of his victories.
“My head coach Arvind Lalwani has been with me since day one, and I’m always grateful to him for believing in me,” he said.
“He is one of the best striking coaches and in 2020, I will prove it to the world.
“Also, Matt Pelino, my wrestling and MMA coach, has helped to improve my game a lot. I really look forward to working with him more, and I believe I will reach the top soon.”
With two victories in his pocket, Raju is excited about the possibilities in 2020.
Also, “The Kerala Krusher” is focused on his overall development as a mixed martial artist, and he hopes to earn a crack at the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
“I definitely want to win some huge fights. Honestly, more than a title shot, I want to get better and improve every day. If the title shot comes, I’ll take it, but I still believe I have a lot to improve before that happens,” he said.
Raju is filled with gratitude for the adversity he has conquered so far in his young career, and he expects to take each moment as a lesson going into 2020.
“When I look back, I’m happy, especially since I know that even during my losses, I really put on a great show and gave it my everything,” he said.
“I learned a lot from those matches and I’ve become a better fighter, so I wouldn’t change anything about that.”
The Home Of Martial Arts returns to action on 10 January for ONE: A NEW TOMORROW at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
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