Stephen “The Sniper” Loman came to ONE Championship with high expectations.
The Team Lakay fighter, who held championships in his past promotions, was counted on to be one of the rising stars from the Baguio-based stable.
And in his first fight inside the ONE Circle, he didn’t just break every expectation, he smashed them.
Loman delivered a resounding victory in his promotional debut as he scored the first round technical knockout win over Russian contender Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev, battering him with his heavy hands at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II last December.
It was just the kind of performance he craved for his introduction in The Home of Martial Arts and safe to say, he has put the bantamweight division on notice.
Loman has immediately propelled himself to the ONE Athlete Rankings, taking Saadulaev’s position as he’s now the no. 3 contender in the bantamweight class.
Although the ascent came as expected, it still surprised Loman that he got to this high in an instant.
“It was my debut fight and it is a great feeling to be at the top five after defeating a ranked opponent. I was positive that I will be climbing up the rankings, but surprisingly, they put me in the third spot. I’m so thankful,” he said.
Loman is well aware of Saadulaev’s pedigree, and the fact that he was able to topple such a tough cookie weighed heavily on his jump to this spot in the list.
“When I was watching Yusup in his fights and when he teaches his students, he is very technical on the ground and I can’t help but be impressed and learn, too, from him,” he said.
“Yusup is not just good at the ground but in striking as well. When I was landing my kicks, he was fast with his punches and that got me. He put me down and when I tried to counter him too, he got a solid chin and a good heart to stand back up again.”
But the quick work Loman had against Saadulaev only made his fans crave for more.
Even the 30-year-old would admit that his full arsenal still wasn’t in full view in that match, and one he is looking forward on displaying once he returns to action.
“I want to show the ever supportive fans my striking ability and my ground game as well next time I step in the cage,” he said.
And the next guy he has on his target? Another top five-ranked fighter in no. 2 “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il.
“I think Kwon Won will be a good match for me,” he said smiling, while also aware that him being at no. 3 in the list puts him in position for a possible title shot on whoever comes on top at ONE: BAD BLOOD between reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes and his fellow Brazilian John “Hands of Stone” Lineker.
For now, Loman’s focus is on himself as he seeks to continue this rise and sustain his nine-fight win streak.
“Expect from me that I will give my everything to stay on the ladder and climb my way up to fight for the title at the soonest,” he stated.