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Mixed Martial Arts

Stephen Loman relishes guidance from Bibiano Fernandes’ arch-nemesis


There is no denying that Stephen Loman has been gearing up for the most important bout of his professional mixed martial arts career to date against a highly-decorated opponent who needs no formal introduction.

The 27-year-old Ifugao native is slated to lock horns with former longtime bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes on the undercard of ONE on Prime Video 4, which takes place at the 12,000-capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium on November 19.

In training for his high-profile matchup against Fernandes, Loman seemingly needs all the help he can get to ensure that he will walk away with his hand raised in triumph and move an inch closer to an opportunity to vie for the vacant ONE bantamweight championship.

Fortunately for Loman, he does not need to look too far for a training partner who can provide him with a more comprehensive scouting report on the Brazilian legend than anyone else.

Kevin Belingon—Loman’s veteran Team Lakay stablemate—knows Fernandes all too well due to the fact that both men shared the cage on four different occasions.

The two began their intense rivalry in January 2016, with Fernandes prevailing over Belingon by way of first-round submission.one-dynasty-of-champions-bibiano-fernandes-def-kevin-belingon Stephen Loman relishes guidance from Bibiano Fernandes’ arch-nemesis Mixed Martial Arts News ONE Championship  - philippine sports news

Belingon worked his way up the ladder for over two years to get a rematch with Fernandes in November 2018, but this time around, “The Silencer” clinched both the victory and the ONE bantamweight title via split decision.one-century-bibiano-fernandes-def-kevin-belingon-1 Stephen Loman relishes guidance from Bibiano Fernandes’ arch-nemesis Mixed Martial Arts News ONE Championship  - philippine sports news

Their third encounter in March 2019 ended in controversial fashion as Belingon was disqualified for illegal elbows to the back of the head, resulting in a rare occurrence that prompted the gold-plated belt to switch hands once more.ONE-Century-Fernandes-def-Belingon Stephen Loman relishes guidance from Bibiano Fernandes’ arch-nemesis Mixed Martial Arts News ONE Championship  - philippine sports news

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It called for a fourth and final duel seven months later, where Fernandes had the last laugh by forcing Belingon to tap in the second round with a rear-naked choke.

Fernandes may have closed the book on his grueling fight series with Belingon three years ago, but little did he know, he would cross paths with another man donning the same signature bright red trunks of Team Lakay.

As for Loman, he plans on taking advantage of getting to know Fernandes in every aspect through the lens of Belingon.

“It’s a big advantage on my part because I have a teammate like Kevin Belingon, who had four fights with Bibiano. I get a ton of information about Bibiano’s strengths and weaknesses through him. It helps me immensely as I develop my game plan,” he told Tiebreaker Times.

“It builds my confidence to have Kuya Kevin around in training as I familiarize myself with Bibiano’s skill set and demeanor inside the Circle.

Loman bared that Belingon—who also returns to action at ONE on Prime Video 4 opposite bantamweight debutant Kim Jae Woong—pointed out several instances where Fernandes could pose a threat.

“Kuya Kevin told me to keep a close eye on his wild punch out of nowhere as well as his wrestling. He believes that Bibiano’s wrestling is still one of his best assets and putting me on the ground will be my opponent’s main strategy,” he stated.

While Loman has youth on his side, he has been warned by Belingon to never underestimate Fernandes’ battle-tested prowess and experience.

“Bibiano still has a couple of fights left in him, obviously. We cannot deny that. In our upcoming fight, it’s important for me to get an advantageous position whether it’s in the stand-up or on the ground,” he stressed.

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Although Loman recognizes that he has a tall order in front of him on November 19, the ex-BRAVE CF bantamweight titleholder is confident that he has the right tools to pull off the upset.

I will do my best, particularly in the stand-up department. If I can get the job done in that area, I will do it. But if the fight goes to the ground, I am optimistic that I will be able to hold up. To be honest, I want to try my wrestling on him to apply the techniques I learned from this training camp,” he mentioned.

“I want to win by TKO or KO. But if the opportunity to finish the fight in that manner doesn’t present itself, I will make sure to give it my all in every round to at least get an undeniable win on the scorecards.”

Written By

Nissi Icasiano has been immersed in the sports industry since 2013, covering the biggest sports events in both domestic and overseas. He has worked as a reporter and a contributing writer for several media outlets/networks such as Rappler, ABS-CBN, Philboxing.com, MSN.com, The Phnom Penh Post, Asian MMA, The Fight Nation and South China Morning Post. In 2017, he started a career as a Combat Sports Analyst for television and radio, appearing on various news shows for ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5 and Radyo Pilipinas. He is also Business World's resident fight analyst.


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