Roy “The Dominator” Doliguez may have had a rough start to his tenure in ONE Championship, but now, with a victory in his back pocket, the former world title challenger is looking to build upon his momentum and return to contention.
At ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD on 10 November, the 35-year-old Sarangani, Philippines native will meet fellow countrymen Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (9-2) in the illustrious Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila.
While Pacio is a talented wushu striker, “The Dominator” is a former professional boxer who is known for his blistering one-punch knockout ability. He believes that will cause his 21-year-old adversary to tread lightly.
“I think he might be wary of me,” Doliguez begins. “He knows that my hands are my weapons.”
Up until recently, Doliguez had his back against the wall. After hitting a three-bout skid, he clashed with another former world title challenger in Brazilian Muay Thai specialist Yago “Codorninha” Bryan at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY in September.
Though Doliguez kept his adversary at bay with a slew of leg kicks, Bryan connected with some powerful shots, and eventually brought the bout to the ground halfway through the opening stanza.
“I was really surprised,” the Filipino remembers. “In the first round, I think he found it difficult to set me up for striking, because I was constantly moving. I got caught off guard when he went for a takedown, because I thought he was not going to try and bring the match to the ground.”
Doliguez seemed to be in trouble, as much of the same followed in the second frame. However, by the time the third stanza began, Doliguez could tell his Brazilian opponent was exhausted.
“I felt that he was tired already,” he says. “There was a time that he had attempted a takedown for just a short while, and I got the feeling that he was spent.”
Close to the end of the bout, the Filipino saw his opening. Bryan kept his hands wide and slouched forward, allowing “The Dominator” to throw a picture-perfect straight left hand down the pipe. His fist connected with the Brazilian’s jaw and dropped him instantly, causing the referee to stop the contest.
“Right then and there, I knew I did not have to do it again, because I felt it in my hands,” he says of his one-punch knockout victory.
The victory was even more important because it broke him out of a slump, which nearly caused him to leave the cage behind.
“I was just really happy, because if I lost again, I might have had second thoughts about this career,” he admits. “I knew that I needed to have the heart of a martial artist. I cannot feel fear or doubt in my abilities. When one feels that, he should retire.”
For Doliguez, who has gotten his first victory in ONE Championship, he wants to capitalize on his breakthrough, and will attempt to establish a win streak against Pacio at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD.
Pacio is a former world title contender who trains out of the famed Baguio City-based camp Team Lakay. After winning his first eight bouts, he challenged for the ONE Strawweight World Championship in October 2016, and was consequently defeated by unbeaten titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito.
Although he edged out the inaugural titleholder Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke earlier this March in his quest for a world title rematch, that fire was extinguished by Hayato Suzuki, who submitted Pacio via first-round rear-naked choke back in August.
“The Passion” may have experienced some tough luck as of late, but Doliguez recognizes his well-rounded skill set, and is not taking him lightly.
“Pacio is good, durable, and has excellent cardio,” he says. “I think his striking game would be strong because of his wushu background. However, I need to be aware of his takedowns, too. I know that Team Lakay are complete martial artists, so I need to prepare.”
This is also the only bout on the card to feature two Filipino athletes going up against each other on home ground. While both have dreams of inching their way closer to the ONE Strawweight World Championship, only one of them can move forward in the title hunt, while the other will suffer a setback.
Doliguez is fully aware of this, and even though the aging veteran wants to win, he would support his rival if he were to lose.
“We will keep our respect for one another, win or lose,” he says, “because we know that whoever wins will mean another Filipino is another step closer to title contention.”