MANILA, Philippines -- Team Lakay's Stephen "The Sniper" Loman knows that if he wants to further raise his stock in ONE Championship, the best way to do so is to take on the former ONE bantamweight world champion.
Loman has won his first two fights in the promotion, debuting with a knockout victory over Yusup Saadulaev before claiming a unanimous decision victory over Shoko Sato at ONE X late last March.
His stellar start ultimately pushed Loman to the No. 3 spot in ONE Championship's deep bantamweight division, which also put him in prime position to challenge former champion Bibiano Fernandes.
The Brazilian is now the No. 1 contender after he lost his golden strap to countryman John Lineker.
Count "The Sniper" as one of the many surprised faces watching when Lineker seemingly did the impossible, stopping "The Flash" and taking home the belt. The Filipino stylist, however, said he learned a lot from Lineker's performance, and believes he has the key to beating Fernandes should they face off against each other in the future.
"It's about pressuring him. Could be in striking, wrestling, on the ground. It's all the facets of MMA," Loman said.
Fernandes was almost unbeatable in his first 13 fights in ONE Championship. The only blemish in his otherwise near-perfect record was a split decision defeat to rival Kevin Belingon in November 2018.
Lineker achieved the unthinkable at ONE: Lights Out earlier this year, when he stopped Fernandes for only the second time in his career to capture the ONE bantamweight world title. "Hands of Stone" was willing to trade with Fernandes from start to finish, and fully believed his power could get the job done.
However, while Fernandes ultimately fell from his throne, Loman said that the MMA legend is far from finished.
"I don't think so. He's still the champion Bibiano that we know. He still has that striking and wrestling prowess, that superb control over his opponent on the ground and submission maneuvers. He didn't rust at all," Loman said.
Loman isn't the only Team Lakay fighter at the top five of the bantamweight division, though.
Belingon, who once held the ONE Bantamweight World Title for a brief period, is currently the No. 5-ranked contender. Despite their respective places in the pecking order, Loman said he would never fight his teammate.
"We're on the same team, same family. It's a no for me," Loman said.
While he refuses to fight Belingon, Loman reiterates that his main goal is to win the world title and he knows that the gold will no doubt cement his legacy in the sport.
"I'm more than 100 percent ready to fight for the title if they offer me the fight. I will pour my everything into it. This is my grail, to be the next title-holder, and follow in the footsteps of my seniors who became world champions in their division," Loman said.