By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

Stephen Loman (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

MANILA – Filipino mixed martial arts star Stephen Loman has expressed his intent to go for the ONE bantamweight title.

Loman said it is his goal for this year to take home the championship belt in the promotion’s 145-pound division.

“My goal in 2023 is to stay active, stay in tip-top condition, and most important of it all, capture the championship belt. [I want] a chance to compete for that belt and bring that belt home,” Loman said in a recent interview.

After huge wins against Shoko Sato and Bibiano Fernandes last year, the Team Lakay stalwart could get his wish very soon as he has been placed on the waitlist for whoever the winner of the Fabricio Andrade-John Lineker fight will face next for the said title.

“I’d look at it as a very good year,” Loman assessed the past year. “[2022] brought me some of the biggest victories of my career, and I achieved my goals to take everything step by step, move my way up in the rankings, and beat some of the biggest names in the division. That year was a very good achievement for me.”

However, the former longest-reigning Brave Combat Federation bantamweight champ is also aware that he also has to up his game at ONE if he wants to become a two-time world champ.

Good thing for him, the fights against Sato and Fernandes made him realize that he is somehow still in uncharted territory.

“I’ve learned a lot [last] year. Having fought both Shoko Sato and Bibiano Fernandes, I’ve seen that there will be no easy fights here. Both of them are veterans, and I’ve had to step up my game quickly,” he said. “[Last] year also taught me to push harder, and persevere, knowing that the ones that I’ll be facing here are high-level veterans, so I have to push hard during training.” (PNA)