Two Filipino homegrown talents will don the Philippine colors in the undercard of ONE Championship: Throne of Tigers on Friday, February 10, at the 12,000-capacity Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Burn “The Hitman” Soriano will lock horns with Malaysian stalwart Saiful “The Vampire” Merican in a three-round bantamweight contest, while former Philippine boxing champion Roy Doliguez will face strawweight ace Alex “Little Rock” Silva.
Both Soriano and Doliguez are seeking to hoist the Philippine flag aloft by winning their respective matches at ONE Championship: Throne of Tigers, which is headlined by a lightweight encounter between Malaysian-Kiwi standout Ev Ting and mixed martial arts veteran Kamal Shalorus.
“It’s an honor to represent the country on a global stage like ONE Championship. I promise that I will do my best to give my beloved nation another spectacular win,” Soriano said.
“It’s also a privilege to compete alongside a fighting veteran like Roy Doliguez. For sure, he is also eager to win his fight for the Philippines. We are aiming to walk away as victors in our upcoming matches in Malaysia.”
Soriano is coming off a highlight-reel victory over Indonesia’s Mario Sitya Wirawan this past August, having scored a lightning quick 15-second spinning backfist knockout.
With a professional MMA record of 3-2 that includes two wins by submission and one by knockout, Soriano looks to continue his winning ways inside the ONE Championship cage.
The man standing in his way is Merican, who aims to bounce back from his first-round knockout loss to Team Lakay’s Geje Eustaquio in January 2016.
Merican is an explosive striker who starts bouts fast, seeking to end matters early. Moreover, he has had incredible success inside the ONE Championship cage with his fan-friendly fighting style.
Soriano expects that his cage meeting with Merican will have no shortage of firepower, as both of them are well versed in the stand-up exchanges.
“I like this match-up because both of us are strikers. If he wants to trade with me, I will oblige. This will be exciting for everyone who is going to watch,” he shared.
Meanwhile, a tough test awaits Doliguez, as he squares off with a grappling expert like Silva in his comeback bout.
Silva is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist with a terrifying ground game and knack for securing highlight-reel submission finishes.
With steadily increasing confidence, Silva’s last three victories have ended in spectacular first-round submissions.
Doliguez is fully aware of his opponent’s exquisite grappling pedigree, but he stressed that he is not intimidated by it.
“MMA is not all about grappling. There are other aspects. That’s the beauty of this sport because there are other ways to win. If he wants to go to the ground, let’s go. If he wants to strike with me, I am welcoming it with open arms,” Doliguez confidently cautioned.
Reeling from two-straight setbacks, the 35-year-old native of Malungon, Sarangani, is looking to place himself back on the winning track at the expense of Silva.
“This is an opportunity to redeem myself as one of the best strawweights in Asia. If I want to fight for the title again, I have to win this first,” Doliguez asserted.