Filipino featherweight Roel “Akiyama” Rosauro understands that climbing the ONE ladder is long and hard.
That is why he is working his way up the ladder in hopes of entering the title conversation.
When Rosauro meets highly regarded debutant James Yang in the Circle, on the lead card at ONE: Revolution – set for Friday, September 24 in Singapore – he hopes for a resounding victory will put him on the right path.
“I expect it to be a bloody fight, and may the best man win,” said the Cebu-based Muay Thai specialist.
Unlike his peers, the 32-year-old has had a rough climb through the ranks, facing some of the division’s most dangerous opponents. Among the most notable names he has challenged so far include Indonesian journeyman Sunoto; and hard-hitting Chinese bad boy, Li Kai Wen. He lost both fights in his first two outings in ONE.
It wasn’t until his third appearance in the Circle that Rosauro was able to turn his career around.
Spurred on by his gold medal victory at the 2018 Philippine International Jiujitsu Open, and a silver medal finish in a Muay Thai event of the Philippine National Games (PNG), a more confident Rosauro was finally able to strike a notch in the win column.
“Akiyama” bagged a unanimous decision over embattled veteran Yohan Mulia Legowo early last year. And that performance that introduced fans to what Rosauro was truly capable of.
Rosauro pummeled Legowo with menacing strikes, featuring killer body shots and a steady stream of low kicks. He dominated the bout and earned his first victory under the ONE Championship banner.
He dedicated the victory to his late father, who never had the chance to watch him compete in the world’s largest martial arts organization. But just when momentum seemed on Rosauro’s side, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. That then threw a monkey wrench into every plan.
Border restrictions, movement, and logistics all became extremely hampered by the threat of the coronavirus. Even training proved a challenge for the Yaw-Yan Ardigma Cebu standout, preventing him from capitalizing on his momentum.
“My training has been on and off because of the pandemic.
“Some days, the gym would be open, but most of the time, it’s closed. Sometimes, I’m forced to train at my home, which is also a difficult task on its own,” he stated, with Cebu City still being one of the hotbeds of the virus in the archipelago.
Despite those difficulties, Rosauro prepared all he could for this return match. He improved his striking, which paid dividends for him in his last fight against Legowo. He also placed additional focus on his grappling to keep up with Yang, who trains with the legendary Demetrious Johnson at AMC Pankration.
“I know he’s a good fighter, so I have to really be at my best. But I’m not worried at all because I know all I need is to give it my best,” Rosauro said.
Rosauro dreams of becoming one of the top contenders in his weight class, currently ruled by reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Thanh Le.
Other top fighters in the division include former two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen, lightweight king Christian Lee, and submission grappling icon Garry Tonon, among others.
It’s certainly a steep climb indeed. But in the combat sports world, just one resounding victory makes a world of difference, especially if it’s an impressive one. If Rosauro can put together a winning performance against Yang that the fighting world will talk about, it could be the Filipino’s one-way ticket to the top.