Roy “The Dominator” Doliguez has been a top contender in both the mixed martial arts and boxing worlds, yet he still feels like he has something to prove. On 10 February, he plans to show the entire world that he still belongs at the top of the strawweight division.
“Every fighter has their own fighting style and we fight for what we believe in,” the 35-year-old Sarangani, Philippines, native says. “I know he is a good ground fighter because of his BJJ record, and as his opponent this time, I have to prepare for it as well.”
Though there are many ways in which they share common ground, the combat sports of boxing and mixed martial arts also offer vast differences. When Roy Doliguez was growing up in the Philippines, the sport of MMA did not even exist. The long and storied history of ‘the sweet science’ is rife within popular culture around the globe, and only in the past few years has MMA begun to penetrate the mainstream.
It is no surprise that young boys with a penchant for combat mostly turned to pugilism in droves, especially those with a dream of using it to escape the often difficult lives they were born into. There are other routes to take in martial arts, but the prizefighting ring of boxing was the one with the glitz, glamour, and paydays.
However, it is not easy, and it does not always start with the attraction to the bright lights, as Doliguez explains.
“If I think now about how I started, I can say that it was just for fun at first. I knew it was a reason I had just to escape school.”
Influenced by his older brother, boxing provided an opportunity to compete and gain a valuable extracurricular activity — an activity he could use as a bargaining chip to get out of mundane lessons — but it was not about a career path. That came much later, as “The Dominator” moved into the professional ranks, following an amateur career which saw him take some regional accolades.
“When I started to have consecutive wins fighting as professional boxer,” he begins, “Those times that I saw and heard my name in different pages and places, I had already taken boxing as a career. But I knew I really had to take care and make the most of it.”
This is a familiar tale. There was no rich family propping up his training, paying his bills and putting food on his table. He was working long hours at a factory not only to fend for himself, but to try and send money back home, after moving to Manila from Sarangani for more opportunities.
Doliguez had to make a life-changing decision. It was a bold and potentially dangerous move to give up the safety net of a paycheck to go full-time in the fight game, but he went for it. He moved into the gym to keep his costs down, all while chasing his dream.
“It was very difficult to move into the gym and stay away from my family because I am a mama’s boy,” he admits. “I stayed in the gym for a long time. Train, work, fight. It became a cycle. Of course, earning money was never easy.”
Look no further than Manny Pacquiao, the ultimate example of how it is possible to go from poverty to extreme riches in boxing. Promoters love to feed aspiring young hopefuls inspirational examples like that, but the reality is they are selling fighters a very rare dream in exchange for their health and livelihood.
Often, they only have their own interests at heart, and that caused Doliguez to become disillusioned with the sweet science, hence turning his eyes to the world of MMA.
It was not always possible to forge a career in the cage in the same way, but the tide is now turning. There are still big money fights in boxing, but MMA has exploded exponentially, offering the chance for more of the world’s best combatants to try and make their living doing what they love.
For that reason, there are more boxers crossing over, but very few are legitimate world title challengers, and even fewer can say they have challenged for world titles in both sports.
Doliguez almost shocked the world in a late-notice WBO World Super Flyweight Title fight against Fernando Montiel, who would become a dominant force and multi-weight world champion in the squared circle.
“We had just two weeks preparation time, 12 days to be exact, yet I was able knock him down in the first round,” Doliguez recalls proudly.
Whilst boxing had given him some good opportunities, he would run out of steam and enthusiasm, and that is when MMA really took hold. He began training and competing in the Philippines, and soon become the top competitor in his weight class.
The Dominator compiled a 6-1 record and avenged his only defeat to clear his division nationally. He had his sights set higher, and he was pressing ONE Championship to sign him, knowing he only wanted to be involved with the best.
“Getting into ONE was a dream came true,” he says. “I kept on posting and emailing ONE to open a strawweight division simply because I wanted to be a part of it. So many good fighters are there. Like any other fighter’s dream, I also wanted to be in a good and big promotion.”
It just so happened that his run of form and his persistence in pitching himself to the show came at the right time, as the promotion introduced their strawweight division. He would fight to crown the inaugural champion, making it his second shot at a world title.
Doliguez took on Muay Thai champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke at ONE: WARRIOR’S QUEST in May 2015 ,and put on an exciting battle until things were ended prematurely, with the Filipino ultimately on the losing side of a technical decision.
After another hard-fought battle, he again lost a decision to Riku Shibuya at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS in January 2016, but now “The Dominator” is more fired up than ever to deliver a winning performance ahead of his next bout against BJJ specialist Alex Silva.
“It is very much important to me to win in this coming fight. I want to show to those who believe in me that I can make it not just for myself, but for all,” he stated.
A third loss would put any hopes of getting another title shot out of reach. The Filipino does not want to end his story just being the challenger. He still has the desire to be a world champion before he exits the tough life of professional fighting, and ONE is where he wants to do it.