Mark Sangiao Expects Big Things To Come From Stephen Loman

Stephen Loman

From the early beginnings of Team Lakay, legendary coach Mark Sangiao knew he had a gem in Stephen “The Sniper” Loman.

It was only a matter of time for everyone to see how capable his debuting ward would be in the world’s largest martial arts organization, ONE Championship..

Yet Sangiao’s wait didn’t really need to be that long as Loman was seemingly shot like a cannon in his first fight inside the ONE Circle. He wasted no time showing his pedigree, stopping erstwhile no. 3-ranked contender Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev for the first round technical knockout victory at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II last December.

Relying on his heavy hands, Loman battered Saadulaev with powerful punches that forced the referee to call for the bell at the 4:09 mark of the first round, a resounding victory for his first fight in ONE Championship.

As much as Loman turned heads in his promotional debut, it was something that Sangiao expected.

“I was not surprised knowing the fight record and experiences of Stephen and that he was a long reigning champion for some years in another promotion,” he said. “What I was surprised of was Yusup’s game plan of exchanging strikes with The Sniper. Striking is the bread and butter of Team Lakay as we all know and we were expecting a ground game from Yusup, but he didn’t try to take the fight to the ground.”

Another thing that Sangiao anticipated was Loman shooting up the official rankings at ONE, going up as high as taking Saadulaev’s spot at the top three, noting, “He pulled a clean win over Yusup who was holding the third rank, so to me, this should automatically put Stephen into the top five in the division.”

There’s one thing clear to Sangiao, though: Loman’s honeymoon period is now over.

With a performance like that, Loman certainly put everyone on notice that he could be considered as a potential opponent for those listed over him, especially the reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes and the next challenger John “Hands of Stone” Lineker.

Fortunately for him, Sangiao has already walked this path before with former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, and though that ride turned out to be short, what’s more important were the lessons that the Baguio-based stable got along the way — one that they aim to utilize with the next generation now in tow.

“If there’s one thing that we got from our experiences then, it’s that it’s important to have self-assurance, that imposing self-confidence that you’ll win the war,” he said.

And Sangiao expects Loman’s star to continue to shine as he braces for more top-flight fighters in the weight class.

Who knows, it won’t be long for him to get his crack at the crown.

“If Stephen will be able to duplicate the commanding result he got from this debut fight, then facing the champion won’t be that far-fetched,” he said. “There’s still a lot that the ONE fans have yet to see from Stephen, but one thing that you should watch out for him will be his power.”

Nevertheless, Sangiao views Loman’s ascension not as a passing of the torch but rather, a reinforcement of Team Lakay’s presence in the bantamweight division as he joins Belingon, as well as Jeremy “The Juggernaut” Pacatiw and Jhanlo Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, as bets who can give the contenders a run for their money in the 65.8-kg weight class.

“Only time and Kevin can tell, of course. If Kevin decides to pass the buck to Stephen, then so be it. But if he was challenged by the outcome of his outings in his last couple fights and passionately wants to reign in the division one more time, then that will still be very good for us,” he said.

“The passing of the torch will come naturally, and for now, it is what it is.”