ONE believed in “The Sniper”. It quickly gave its new recruit the Number 1 bantamweight contender in his very first match early 2021. Sadly, Stephen Loman didn’t have a chance to show he deserved the adulation and even exact revenge to the conqueror of his teammate, Kevin Belingon.
After COVID-19 put a temporary delay to his months of anticipation, Loman finally made his ONE Championship debut. He may not have done it against the John Lineker but stopping #3-ranked contender, Yusup Saadulaev showed Loman lived up to all the hype and is ripe for a title shot.
The Filipino bantamweight sensation knocked out the “Maestro” in the first round of their mixed martial arts clash at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II aired last December 17 held at Singapore.
The win improved his professional record to 15-2. He finished eight of them in abbreviated fashion, 6 by knockouts and 2 by submissions. He is undefeated in his last nine fights.
All signs point to his being able to continue the impeccable reign he establish at BRAVE Combat Federation.
He departed BRAVE as the promotion’s only titleholder who defended his championship multiple times.
Loman captured the BRAVE bantamweight title with a victory over Canadian-Indian Gurdarshan “St. Lion” Mangat in 2017.
He followed this up with successful title defenses against Frans Mlambo on June 9, 2018, Felipe Efrain on November 16, 2018; Elias Boudegzdame on March 15, 2019 in a fight held at the Mall of Asia Arena, and Louie Sanoudakis on November 23, 2019.
His successful title defenses on multiple occasions and headlining various events made him arguably the biggest star in BRAVE’s history, even up to this day.
He was undefeated in six bouts with the promotion since 2016 and his reign has been active for 1,177 days as of February 5, 2021, a few days after his transfer to ONE had been announced.
By comparison, Bibiano Fernandes is the holder of the single reign in the bantamweight division of ONE Championship at 1,848 days. This was ended teammate Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon.
Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz of United States is the current holder of the longest single reign in the bantamweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) at 1,117 days.
He and Joshua “The Passion” Pacio are the only Team Lakay fighters who were wearing title belts at the close of 2019 and 2020.
Loman’s impressive victory definitely put ONE’s bantamweight division on high alert. While three other bantamweights came up with equally defining victories of their own in the same night, it was Loman who came in with highly convincing credentials to back up his hype.
Loman danced with Saadulaev upon the sound of the opening bell in feeling each before throwing leather.
He received some good shots from his rival which forced him to tuck his chin firmly behind his right shoulder in order to hide it from Saadulaev’s left hand which was landing hard and on target.
In the meantime, he slowly got his range into comfortable zone as he was too far outside and missed more than he hit.
“The Sniper” connected two straight lefts as he began to find his rhythm but Saadulaev returned favor with two lefts of his own, with the second snapping the Team Lakay debutant’s head back sharply when it connected.
However, it was noticeable that the Russian submission artist still hadn’t attempted a takedown two-and-a-half minutes into the fight.
It was all the cue Loman needed to prove his ground game could be as good as its wushu prowess and can stay on the feet and blitz with strikes.
Saadulaev landed the first damaging shot when he countered a low kick. The Russian’s straight left dropped the young upstart, but “The Sniper” jumped back to his feet with intent.
In a quick turnaround, Loman blasted Saadulaev with a left hand. “Maestro” stumbled into the Circle Wall and tried to recover but the Filipino followed and pummeled him with straight punches.
Sensing his opponent is still capable of pulling a wild shot, Loman backed off, reset, and then tagged Saadulaev with a left hook just as his rival cocked back to unleash his own shot.
The “Maestro” fell, rolled onto his back, with the
Cordilleran stalking headside and connecting two more hammerfists before referee Olivier Coste wrestled him away from the visibly groggy Saadulaev and end the action.
The stoppage is officially recorded at 4:09 of round one.
“I started out on a good note, and I was able to show the fruits of my training,” Loman noted. “I think this is a good sign of things to come, and I will continue to do my best to live up to the expectations of the fans.”
Loman is aware reigning bantamweight king “The Flash” is scheduled to defend his gold against #1-ranked “Hands of Stone” in 2022. He says he’s got one more fight before the title shot comes.
“I am really not picky, but I want someone who’s higher than me in the rankings. Maybe I’m one fight away from it.” Loman said.
An impressive first round knockout by Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade of Li Kai Wen and “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il shocking upset of the #2-ranked Belingon could create a lot of movement in the bantamweight rankings soon.
Loman and fellow newcomer Jhanlo Mark Sangiao will have their hands full if they are to make their mark in this division.
By Armando M. Bolislis