ONE FC on Thursday announced the signing of the most sought after free agent in Asia. Undefeated Indonesian featherweight Fransino Tirta has put pen to paper on a long-term contract that will allow him to resurrect an MMA career that ground to a halt in 2011.
Tirta has an outstanding 14-0-1 record, marking him as one of the top 145-pound fighters in the world, but was forced to pull out of a Legend FC title fight in 2012 due to appendicitis and hasn’t been offered a fight by the now-defunct promotion since.
When Legend FC folded towards the end of last year, Tirta became a free agent and despite overtures from the UFC he elected to sign with ONE FC and will join a featherweight division that currently includes reigning champion Koji Oishi and top contenders Shinya Aoki, Honorio Banario, Eric Kelly and Rob Lisita.
Tirta’s exemplary record marks him as the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in Indonesia. He will be a major asset to ONE FC, which has put on two events in Jakarta to date relying mainly on a mix of less experienced local fighters.
Although he has not competed in MMA since beating Chengjie Wu in the semifinals of the Legend FC 145-pound tournament in 2011, Tirta has been active with coaching commitments and made his professional boxing debut last August, winning a four-round fight by unanimous decision.
Tirta made his MMA debut in 2003 and won his first 11 fights, notably beating three opponents in a single night to win the TPIFC 155-pound Grand Prix. On his international debut, he fought to a draw with undefeated Chinese fighter Dai Shuang Hai after a grueling 15-minute round at Art of War 8 in 2007.
Since then Tirta’s appearances inside the cage have been sporadic, but he stopped respected Swedish fighters Andreas Hesselback and Malik Mawlayi in Bali and Beijing respectively before beating Chengie by unanimous decision on his Legend FC debut.
Tirta is one of only two Indonesian’s to hold a black belt in BJJ. The other is his longtime coach Niko Han. He also has a background in Sanda with six of his 14 wins coming by way of KO or TKO and five courtesy of a submission.
After almost three years away from the sport, it will be interesting to see if Tirta can extend his winning streak under the banner of Asia’s biggest MMA promotion. But at the age of 32, he should still be in his physical prime and has the potential to be an immediate title contender in the ONE FC 145-pound division.
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