Stephen Loman has been carrying a huge chip on his shoulder since winning the BRAVE CF World Bantamweight Championship back on November 17, 2017.
And it reached its peak when Baguio hosted a parade for Team Lakay back in December of 2018.
During that time, the City of Pines celebrated Team Lakay for winning five world champions. However, all the attention was on ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio, and ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio.
Up to this day, the 24-year-old Loman still remembers that moment.
“Nafee-feel ko nun talagang kulang sa’kin ‘yung media kasi ibang promotion nga.
“Pero I am glad pa din as I go along the way [na] hindi ako nawala sa direction. Nag-stick pa rin ako sa training, sa mga laban ko ginagawa ko yung part ko,” shared Loman.
Still, Loman focused on each bout, slaying each opponent put in front of him en route to four successful title defenses.
But at the back of his mind, he always wondered, what if he was in ONE Championship?
“Noong time na ‘yon parang yes na din po. Nung nalaman ko na pa-end na na ang contract ko sa Brave, puwede ata lumipat sa ibang promotion. At ‘yun na nga, nangyari na,” he said.
Last March 1, he signed on the dotted line with ONE. It marked the end of his reign as BRAVE world champion at 1,180 days.
Now with ONE, Loman wants to prove that his reign as world champion is no fluke — that he should be mentioned in the same breath as Folayang, Belingon, Eustaquio, and Pacio.
“Regarding sa level ng competition, every fight talaga hindi mo masasabi kasi this is mixed martial arts. Ang important lang dun ay ‘yung skills ko na ishe-shsare at ang game plan na ginagawa ko, at ‘yun focus lang ako sa preparations ko,” he opined.
Even ONE Championship views him in high regard, as his baptism of fire will be against no. 1-ranked John Lineker on ONE on TNT III. The event takes place on April 22 in Singapore.
Lineker, 30, is a 16-fight UFC veteran who owns a 33-9 record.
But Loman will only know where he stands in the global mixed martial arts scene once the bell rings.
“Makikita na lang natin sa debut ko. Tingnan na lang natin sa laban doon ko lang mafe-feel kung saang level talaga ako.”