The undefeated American stepped in on late notice to take on hometown favorite Agilan “Alligator” Thani at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and he does not plan to travel 15,000 kilometers just to make up the numbers.
Schiro has dedicated his life to martial arts for the past five years and overcame a loss in his first amateur bout to go on a three-year, 12-bout winning streak. Now a perfect 6-0 as a professional, he has earned his shot on the global stage, and he believes this match could be the start of something big in the welterweight division.
Ahead of his promotional debut, the 25-year-old reveals all about the whirlwind week that has taken him to The Home Of Martial Arts, and his take on a tough opening assignment against Thani in KL.
ONE Championship: How did this match-up come together so quickly?
Dante Schiro: My manager and ONE have been in communication for a little bit now, and there had been some interest in other people from my gym, but honestly, it kinda came out of nowhere. I had no idea this opportunity was going to pop up.
My manager messaged me at one in the morning and said, ‘Message me as soon as you’re up.’ I got in touch with him, he asked if I was ready to go, if I could fight next weekend, and I said yes. Next thing you know, we have a ONE contract to sign.
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ONE: How close to peak shape are you for this opportunity?
DS: I’m definitely the kind of guy that just stays ready year-round. I’ve been on a tear this last year since I’ve turned pro – I’ve been cranking out fights and watching how the sport goes all around the world, and you just never know when your opportunity is going to come.
I just take it upon myself to be ready whenever I can because I can’t say no to opportunities like this when they come around. They might not come again.
ONE: How did you feel when you found out ONE was interested?
DS: I watch all of the big global shows, so it was really cool when I found out ONE was interested in me.
I first found out about ONE when Ben Askren was over there because he’s another Wisconsin guy and that’s where I’m from, so I’ve been familiar with the promotion and the people in it for a while.
ONE: What were your thoughts about going in against a KL native in Thani?
DS: I said yes before I even knew who the opponent was. To me, it doesn’t really matter as either way, I get to fight.
Looking at it now, it’s exciting. I get to go against the hometown favorite. It just adds a little sweetness to the prize when I win. It’s a little bit more motivation to get in there and get the job done. All the pressure is on him. Nobody there will be rooting for me or expecting me to win, so I have no pressure going into it.
ONE: What is the most dangerous thing about facing him?
DS: He’s a tough guy. He’ll be there ready to fight, I know that, but I feel like I’m better in every part of the sport, so we will see what happens.
Put it like this – anybody can get knocked out on the feet, so who knows, but I still feel like I am better than him on the feet. I’m better than him on the ground, whether I’m on my back or on top. I’m confident anywhere. It’ll be up to me whether to take it down or keep it on the feet.
He’s a tough opponent, all of his fights have been exciting to watch. The fight against [Yoshihiro] Akiyama was really exciting. He showed a lot of heart, and it shows that to beat him I will have to put him out.
ONE: What is your ideal scenario when the bout gets underway?
DS: In a perfect world, I don’t get punched once, I take him down and I submit him.
ONE: What does this opportunity mean to you?
DS: This is everything for me. This is what I’ve been working towards for four or five years now.
It’s all led up to this moment to prove myself on my debut in one of the world’s biggest shows. I’m excited to go in there and make a statement, and put the entire division on notice.
I didn’t do all this hard work to get one fight with ONE. I worked this hard to become a World Champion and be able to financially provide for my family. The hard work isn’t finished. This is one big step in my career, but this isn’t the last step.