Filipina atomweight Angelie “D Explorer” Sabanal is heading into her opponent’s backyard again in a bid to extend her undefeated start to life in mixed martial arts.
At ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM on Saturday, 17 November, Sabanal will take on Indonesia’s Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol in Jakarta, Indonesia in a bid to register the second win of her career and follow up her impressive debut victory.
“We’re going to test each other, and the one with more hunger and the best preparation will be the winner,” Sabanal says.
“It’s a tough test to fight a hometown favourite again, but I have to step up and prove that I am a warrior.”
Sabanal’s win over Rika Ishige announced her arrival in ONE Championship as she earned a unanimous decision against the fan favourite in Bangkok, Thailand.
And although the 29-year-old headed into the bout determined to win, she admits she was somewhat taken aback when the scores were read in her favour.
“I did not know what to do. Do I celebrate or do I cry? I was really surprised because I did not expect the outcome. I couldn’t explain the feeling at the exact moment my name was announced as the winner,” she recalls.
“My opponent was clearly more experienced than me. Getting the victory over Rika is like winning a World Championship.”
Fresh from defeating Thailand’s Ishige in her hometown, Sabanal now faces a similar test as he looks to derail the growing momentum of Indonesia’s Lumban Gaol in Jakarta.
And after claiming her first win under similar conditions, Sabanal says she is not fazed by the challenge.
“Honestly, I am not nervous. All I feel at the moment is the excitement because I have another chance to prove my worth as an athlete,” she says.
“Of course, there is pressure, especially after the win against Rika Ishige, but I thrive on it. I don’t feel any jitters. Maybe the pressure brings out the best in me.
“I am not going to zone out. It doesn’t matter if they will cheer or boo. It’s all energy. The more they are into the match, the more pumped up I get.”
A Philippines National Muay Thai Silver Medalist, Sabanal knows the bout is likely to be contested on the feet, but says she has more than just her striking skills to call upon against Lumban Gaol.
She has been working hard on her grappling skills, and her progression was evidenced by a silver medal at the ADCC Northern Mindanao Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competition in May.
It means that Sabanal is ready for all eventualities, both standing up and on the mat.
“If she wants to strike with me, I will be glad to oblige.
I also have no problem rolling with her on the mat. I want to test my developing ground game in the match against her,” she says.
“My goal is to be a complete fighter. This is mixed martial arts, and the sport requires me to cover all bases. Even though I am coming off a win over an athlete with a decent background in grappling, I shouldn’t be complacent.”
Sabanal is still a new face on the ONE Championship roster, but while she acknowledges some people may not know her at the moment, she hopes another strong showing, and a win, over Lumban Gaol will start to see her gain more recognition as she looks to grow her stock in the ONE atomweight division.
“I don’t mind if they have no idea who I am before the fight,” she says.
“What matters most is that the fans in Jakarta will remember me after the match.”