Team Lakay’s Stephen “The Sniper” Loman reiterates his refusal to fight a teammate while targeting a match with former bantamweight title holder Bibiano Fernandes.
After his success before entering the ONE umbrella, Loman is looking forward to pit his talents against the deep bantamweight the division of the promotion.
He, however, refuses to rise to the top at the expense of any of his Team Lakay brothers.
Fortunately, a trio of Brazilians and a Korean are already providing the challenge he needs before any serious threats from a Filipino could arise in the horizon.
See related story: Brazil continues domination of Team Lakay in ONE Bantam
It is in this context that Loman is rather looking forward to face former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, a fight that is expected to further raise his stock in ONE Championship.
The former BRAVE resident star is 2-0 in his first two fights in ONE, a knockout win over Yusup Saadulaev in his debut and a unanimous decision victory over Shoko Sato at ONE X late last March.
Loman’s stellar start ultimately pushed him to the #3 spot in ONE Championship’s deep bantamweight the division, which also put him in prime position to challenge Fernandes, who is now the #1 contender after he lost his golden strap to countryman John Lineker.
Count “The Sniper” as one of the many surprised faces watching when Lineker seemingly did the impossible, stopping “The Flash” and taking home the belt.
The Filipino stylist, however, says he learned a lot from Lineker’s performance, and so believes he has the key to beating Fernandes should they face off against each other in the future.
“It’s about pressuring him. Could be in striking, wrestling, in the ground. It’s all the facets of MMA,” Loman said.
Fernandes was near unbeatable in his first 13 fights in ONE Championship. The only blemish in his otherwise near-perfect record was a split decision defeat to rival Kevin Belingon in November 2018.
Lineker achieved the unthinkable at ONE: LIGHTS OUT earlier this year, when he stopped Fernandes for only the second time in his career to capture the ONE Bantamweight World Title. “Hands of Stone” was willing to trade with Fernandes from start to finish, and fully believed his power could get the job done.
However, while Fernandes ultimately fell from his throne, Loman said that the MMA legend is far from finished.
“I don’t think so. He’s still the champion Bibiano that we know. He still has that striking and wrestling prowess, that superb control over his opponent on the ground and submission maneuvers. He didn’t rust at all,” Loman said.
Loman isn’t the only Team Lakay fighter at the top five of the bantamweight division, though.
Belingon, who once held the ONE Bantamweight World Title for a brief period, is currently the #5-ranked contender. Despite their respective places in the pecking order, Loman said he would never fight his teammate.
“We’re on the same team, same family. It’s a no for me,” Loman said.
While he refuses to fight Belingon, Loman reiterates that his main goal is to win the World Title and he knows that the gold will no doubt cement his legacy in the sport.
At moment, another Brazilian, Fabricio Andrade, might have a better shot at the title first.
Andrade delayed Jeremy Pacatiw’s wish to gain traction in ONE’s bantamweight division.
A perfect counter-shot from 4th-ranked bantamweight found its target at the 1:37 mark of the first round of their bout during ONE: Full Circle held on February 25, 2022 at Singapore did the trick.
The hit was a knee to the liver that send “The Juggernaut” crumbling against the fence, forcing referee Justin Brown to halt the fight in favor of the Brazilian.
Then there is the lanky Korean, Kwon Won Il, who shocked former ONE Bantamweight World Champion and current #2-ranked contender Kevin Belingon during ONE: Winter Warriors on December 2021.
A thunderous left hook to the body in the second frame crumpled Belingon instantly, and the former bantamweight king was unable to continue, officially bowing out at the 0:52 mark.
Loman, however, is confident he can on in ONE what he did in BRAVE.
“I’m more than 100 percent ready to fight for the title if they offer me the fight. I will pour my everything into it. This is my grail, to be the next title-holder, and following the footsteps of my seniors who became world champions on their division,” Loman said.
By: Armando Bolislis