December 10, 2022

Once the longest reigning bantamweight world champion in Middle-east mixed martial  arts promotion, Stephen Loman is ready for the toughest challenge yet of his career against Bibiano Fernandes of Brazil in Singapore on Nov. 19.

The 42-year-old Fernandes happened to be the longest reigning bantamweight champion in ONE Championship and has outdueled some of the world-class fighters in the world, including Loman’s teammate Kevin Belingon.

In fact, Fernandes was still lording over ONE’s bantamweight division right around the time Loman joined the world’s largest martial arts organization last year. 

Back then, Loman knew right away that to make his world title aspirations a reality, he would somehow have to go through the Brazilian legend, one way or the other. Somehow, a collision course against Fernandes has always felt inevitable.

The 27-year-old Loman will take on the toughest challenge of his career in what could be a potential world title eliminator in the 145-pound ranks. 

“In the past, I thought I was going to be matched up with him, but that didn’t happen. So, for sure, my excitement for that match is still there. He’s the guy who defeated Kevin, so I want to face him to see where my level is at right now,” Loman said.

While Fernandes lost his golden strap to John Lineker earlier this year, he’s still ranked one in the division. Loman, who is ranked fourth, knows a win against Fernandes brings him one step closer to the now-vacant ONE bantamweight world title. 

He currently holds a 16-2 professional MMA record and is riding high on a 10-fight winning streak. His last two victories in the ONE circle have come against high-level competition.

Fernandes is a wanted man in the mountains of Baguio – particularly inside the Team Lakay camp. After all, the Brazilian fighter figured in several wars against Belingon. 

After winning three of his four encounters with Belingon, it is safe to say that Fernandes got the better of that rivalry. Now, Belingon is passing the torch to Loman and is already teaching him the tricks of the trade against the BJJ savant.  

Although Fernandes lost to Line-ker in his most recent outing, the veteran also proved that he still has a lot left in the tank. The submission specialist, who is not known for his striking, was able to floor Lineker who is notorious for possessing a granite chin. – Harley F. Palangchao