Ernesto “Iron” Montilla Jr. has been grinding hard before his long-awaited ONE Championship debut, and he likes where he’s at so far.
The Filipino champion crosses over to ONE Championship when he takes on dangerous Japanese veteran Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada in a three-round flyweight MMA match at ONE Friday Fights 9 on Friday at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
Montilla, who made it to the final three of ONE Warrior Series Philippines, is banking on his striking against the crafty Wada, who many expect will rely on his ground game in this contest.
“I see some holes in his striking, and I think I can get him there. I prepared for his weakness, which is his striking,” he said. “But I didn't sleep on my grappling too. He will be surprised, not just in the standup.”
Montilla will need to find and exploit those holes fast, especially against a grinder like Wada, who’s known for imposing his will on his opponents through his grappling.
Wada, a veteran of 35 fights, has proven that he can hang with some of the division’s best grapplers including reigning ONE flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who he battled until the final bell.
That’s why many see Montilla as an underdog in this fight. However, that label doesn’t bother him.
“I don't care about being the underdog because I came to win,” he said.
Given a chance to finally compete on the big stage of ONE Championship against an established veteran, Montila knows that it’s now or never. After all, an opportunity like this might not swing his way again.
So expect him to go all out and do whatever it takes to eke out the win.
“My goal is to win,” he said, “by either knockout or submission [in] whichever round.”