Stephen “The Sniper” Loman put the bantamweight division on high alert in his ONE Championship debut.
The Filipino, who entered the Circle riding an eight-fight winning streak, took out #3-ranked contender Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev with a first-round TKO in their MMA showdown at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II on Friday, 17 December.
The southpaws circled each other after the opening bell sounded inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium and then began to throw leather. Loman had his chin firmly tucked behind his right shoulder, and for good reason, as Saadulaev’s left hand was landing hard and on target.
Loman ate the shots and swung at “Maestro,” but he was too far outside and missed more than he hit. However, two straight lefts from “The Sniper” found their mark, and he was right back in the mix.
Saadulaev returned the favor with two lefts of his own, with the second snapping the Team Lakay debutant’s head back sharply when it connected.
Two-and-a-half minutes into the fight, the Russian submission artist still hadn’t attempted a takedown, so Loman – who wanted to prove Team Lakay’s ground game could be as good as its wushu prowess – was forced to stay on the feet and blitz with strikes.
Hooks got thrown, legs were attacked, and both men stuttered from their opponent’s feints, but neither landed any significant damage until Saadulaev countered one of the debutant’s low kicks. The Russian’s straight left dropped the young upstart, but “The Sniper” jumped back to his feet with intent.
In a quick turnaround, Loman blasted Saadulaev with a left hand. “Maestro” stumbled into the Circle Wall and tried to recover, but the Filipino followed and pummeled him with straight punches.
Loman backed off, reset, and then tagged Saadulaev with a left hook just as his rival cocked back to unleash his own.
“Maestro” fell, rolled onto his back, and the Filipino dropped down two more hammerfists before referee Olivier Coste stopped the bout at 4:09 of round one.
The victory moved Loman’s record to 15-2 and may have earned him the next shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Title, which will be decided in 2022 when current divisional king Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes takes on #1-ranked contender John “Hands of Stone” Lineker.