Stephen Loman arrests Team Lakay’s losing slump in world title fights
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 18, 2019 05:59 PM
“There was pressure to win. It’s my homecoming fight, and I needed to win for our team because we lost two of our title fights last January. This is our redemption." - Stephen Loman
by Nissi Icasiano
Filipino rising star Stephen “The Sniper” Loman of the legendary Team Lakay could not have written a better conclusion in his first bout on Philippine soil since 2016.
Not only did he successfully defend the Brave Combat Federation bantamweight championship in front of a partisan hometown crowd at the SM Mall Of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila last Friday, March 15, but he also broke Team Lakay’s losing skid in world title contests.
The 27-year-old Baguio City native authored a spectacular performance to the delight of his countrymen, routing French-Algerian challenger Elias Boudegzdame by way of fourth-round technical knockout in the main event of Brave 22: Storm Of Warriors.
With a load of pressure to retain his crown and reinsert Team Lakay into the winner’s column of championship bouts resting on his shoulders, Loman effortlessly picked the former Brave featherweight titleholder apart with his striking superiority.
Having a stationary target in front of him, the Igorot southpaw freely clobbered Boudegzdame with solid left crosses and harrowing push kicks to the midsection from the get-go.
After surviving a precarious sequence in the first round where he lost his balance and allowed Boudegzdame to climb over his back for a rear-naked choke, Loman seamlessly imposed his will in the next three rounds of the clash, continuously stifling his opponent with kicks and punches to the body.
His diligent effort to break down Boudegzdame brick by brick started to pay dividends in the third frame, where he stunned his cage counterpart with a hammering left cross.
That same punch played an integral role in securing the finish in the fourth round, where Loman made Boudegzdame’s knees shake with his left hand.
Once Boudegzdame’s back hit the mat, Loman swarmed on his hapless foe with a relentless volley of stinging elbows to force the referee to halt the contest with one second remaining in round four.
With his impressive performance against Boudegzdame, Loman improved his professional record to 13-2.
"Brave gave me the huge honor of being the main event of their first card in the Philippines, so I'm grateful for this opportunity," Loman said after the match.
Meanwhile, Boudegzdame downgraded his mixed martial arts (MMA) standing to 15-6 and suffered his second-straight loss since relinquishing the Brave featherweight title to Bubba Jenkins in September 2018.
Loman admittedly heaved a sigh of relief when he got his hand raised in triumph against an opponent who boasts an outstanding pedigree in the sport.
“There was pressure to win. It’s my homecoming fight, and I needed to win for our team because we lost two of our title fights last January. This is our redemption,” he stated.
Loman was referring to the unsuccessful title defenses of teammates Joshua Pacio and Geje Eustaquio under the ONE Championship banner.
Pacio lost his ONE Strawweight World Champion to Japan’s Yosuke Saruta by way of razor-thin split decision this past January, while Eustaquio took a controversial unanimous decision defeat to Adriano Moraes in their rubber match to surrender the ONE Flyweight World Title a week later.
“It was hard for the whole team. I am just happy that I am bringing the belt back home. This is for my brothers at Team Lakay,” Loman shared.
Loman hopes that his spectacular win rubs on to his Team Lakay comrades who are slated in three different world title fights at the end of the month and in April.
ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang is set to face Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in a long-awaited rematch at ONE: A New Era, which takes place at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on March 31.
Joining Folayang on the card is Kevin Belingon, who will defend the ONE Bantamweight World Title against Bibiano Fernandes in a trilogy match.
Meanwhile, Pacio will get his second encounter against Saruta for the strawweight strap in the co-main event of ONE: Roots Of Honor, set for April 12 at the 20,000-capacity SM Mall Of Asia Arena.
“I believe this win will be a big factor for my teammates to be inspired for their upcoming title fights,” Loman stressed.
“Definitely, a tough test awaits them. But my victory is a testament that as a team, we can overcome every challenge that comes our way,” he added.
Three more Team Lakay athletes shine
Aside from Loman, three more representatives from Team Lakay brought home the victory at Brave 22: Storm Of Warriors.
Jeremy Pacatiw (9-3) continued his ascent in Brave’s bantamweight division, submitting compatriot Mark Alcoba (6-2) with a wrenching armbar in the third round.
Returning to action after a nearly four-year hiatus, Harold Banario (5-1) made quick work of Ariel Oliveros (3-4), compelling his fellow Filipino to wave the white flag with a kneebar in just 41 seconds.
On the other hand, Jomar Pa-ac (6-2) emerged triumphant against India’s Satya Behuria (1-1) via unanimous decision to place himself back on the winning track.
The lone Team Lakay member who lost at the aforementioned event was Jon Cris Corton (6-4). He succumbed to a first-round submission loss at the hands of Finland’s Abdul Hussein (6-1).
Non-Team Lakay athletes likewise made their presence felt at Brave 22: Storm Of Warriors, including Rolando Gabriel Dy (11-7) who is the son of boxing legend Rolando Navarrete.
Dy, who rose to prominence in the now-defunct Pacific Xtreme Combat, scored a sensational victory over Pakistan’s Mehmosh Raza (9-4) in his return to the Middle East-based MMA promotion.
The 27-year-old Cavite resident sent Raza’s mouthguard flying with a left hook-right straight combination in the first round, registering a knockout win and his second consecutive victory since being released from the UFC.