MANILA, Philippines – Don't mess with his hair or you'll get one hell of a beating.
This was Muay Thai specialist Eugene Toquero's warning against Malaysian grappler Gianni Subba, whom he will meet in the main card of "ONE FC: Rise of Heroes" in May.
The 32-year-old Cebuano is a fan favorite due to his all-out, fast-paced fighting style that resulted in 4 first-round finishes out of 6 fights.
“Lahat ng kalaban ko one round lang [tapos na], kasi ayaw kong magulo ang buhok ko,” Toquero said during the press launch of the Manila fight card.
“Pinapaspasan ko agad eh. ‘Pag umabot ng [latter rounds] nawawala ang diskarte ko. Kasi boring na ang laban [‘pag nagulo], inayos-ayos ko pa naman ang buhok ko.”
Toquero’s fight credentials, however, are nothing to sneeze at.
The Alcantara-born fighter started training in Muay Thai at the age of 15. He became a member of the Philippine Muay Thai team, competing in different tournaments abroad. He even competed against some of the best fighters in Thailand, the birth place of Muay Thai.
Four years ago, he incorporated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into his training and jumped into the mixed martial arts (MMA) bandwagon by competing in the Pacific Xtreme cage fighting. There, he defeated 5 fighters all by stoppages.
His only defeat was against technically-skilled Team Lakay fighter Geje Eustaquio, who foiled Toquero’s head-on tactics in "ONE FC: Moment of Truth" last December.
But Toquero vowed to use his experience against the young grappler in Subba, who is 11 years his junior.
“Nakikita nyo naman ‘pag may laban ako, gusto ko laban talaga. Ayaw ko ng tumatakbo yung kalaban ko. Gusto ko masaya yung audience. Suntukan agad, antayin natin kung sinong babagsak,” he said.
Subba, for his part, said Toquero should protect his face instead of getting preoccupied with his hair.
All of the Malaysian’s three fights also ended by stoppages.
“Actually, Eugene should worry about his face,” said the boyish Subba. “Toquero is a really good fighter, i have to prepare hard with my team, do the best that I can.”
“I know I'll come out on top,” he said.
Toquero said he fears no one although he admitted that there’s only one fear he can't shrug off: “Matatakot na lang ako pag magulo ang buhok ko.”
"ONE FC: Rise of Heroes" will take place at the Mall of Asia Arena on May 2.