Stephen Loman: The Filipino Bantamweight who’s set to take MMA by storm
It’s June 8, 2018, and all fighters have weighed in for their respective bouts as Brave CF began testing new waters in Europe. Belfast had a buzz about it and the rare bright and warm weather certainly added to it.
Earlier in the day, the main event was locked in as both fighters weighed in under the 135lb limit. The hype around Frans Mlambo was real. A standout amateur that was thriving as a pro. Watching his fights back in the days building up I would have had picked him to win and avenge his defeat.
While I was sitting in the hotel bar that evening, many of the fighters were strolling around and enjoying some time with family and their teams, one of which was Mlambo’s scheduled opponent, Stephen Loman.
He had brought over incredible support from the Philippines and the tight-knit group all sat around enjoying themselves. Loman broke away from the group, though. He saw me writing about the event and sat down next to me at one point. He stayed sitting there for about an hour, just chatting about different things until his team came over and told him it was time for bed. He said his goodbyes and was on his way.
After talking with Loman the evening before, I was interested to see how he would fare against a more experienced Mlambo. The fight kicked off and didn’t disappoint. Early on, it was looking to go the way I expected with Mlambo showing his class. As the rounds went on, Loman started executing his game plan and grinded out a unanimous decision victory over Mlambo, thereby successfully defending his Brave CF title for the first time.
After that fight, I started following his career much more. He went onto meet officials and community leaders in his home city, his achievements were being deservedly recognised.
The Filipino’s next fight was against Felipe Efrain in November of that year. A dominant performance from Loman proved yet again why he was the deserving champion. His improvements were evident and his domination over the division was rewarded as he picked up the award for Brave CF Fighter of the Year.
The promotion went on to book a date in the Philippines in early 2019, giving Loman a chance to shine in front of a home crowd, this time against Elias Boudegzdame. In the build-up to this, I knew it would be a tough fight. Boudegzdame was after capturing and defending gold in the featherweight division before subsequently losing the belt to Bubba Jenkins. This prompted him to move down a division. This was set up to be the toughest bout to date for Loman.
Loman was grieving going into this fight. His uncle had passed away after falling victim to a hit and run; this all happened during the closing stages of his fight camp. Loman dedicated the fight to him.
Beyond the somber mood, fight night came around. Loman was always known for his impenetrable focus, but Boudegzdame quelled the home crowd, Lomam’s crowd, with a tense feeling as he looked to utilize his submission prowess.
The Filipino defended intelligently and invested in his striking to break down his opponent, finally wobbling him in the last round, which in turn led to him dramatically securing the finish as the referee stepped in with a second left on the clock.
His fans – who had travelled everywhere with him on his road to glory – made their presence known. He earned that homecoming moment.
Eight months went by until Loman stepped into the cage again. This time with TriStar standout, Louie Sanoudakis. It was another gruelling 25-minute fight as both men went the distance. The Canadian had a moment in the final round but it was too little too late. The Filipino was incredible and proved why he was the champion — earning a one-sided decision victory.
The rise of Stephen Loman has gone under the radar. He has dominated a division in a renowned promotion and looked good doing so.
He’s battled through adversity both in and out of the cage only to come out on top. I believe Loman is a proven top fighter that can hang in there with some of the best. He’s probably one of the most underrated fighters out there at the moment.
The UFC currently has no fighters from the Philippines signed, and none spring to mind for Bellator either. If Brave CF ever lose their champion to another promotion though, I could certainly see him getting snapped up by one of the aforementioned. He is a fighter that could test some of the better fighters in any 135lb division.
For now, he is a superstar in Brave CF and is certainly a high-level fighter to be watching closely as he dominates everyone put in front of him.