MANILA, Philippines – ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) fighter Igor Subora believes that the local mixed martial arts (MMA) scene in the Philippines played a pivotal role in his career and to where he is presently.
Subora (5-1) is one of the few foreign nationals who opted to make a run for the money and compete professionally in the country, joining the likes of Pete Brooks, Hideo Morikawa and Nicholas Mann.
Although he acquired his Combat Sambo pedigree overseas, the 6-foot-3 Ukrainian decided to train as an MMA competitor when he migrated to the archipelago in 2008, honing his skills in neighboring gyms around the metro.
“I came here in 2007 and left after six months, but I decided to come back in 2008. Why I started here? I found myself with plenty of free time and finally was able to start training full time,” he told Rappler.
Under the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) banner, Subora had his first prizefighting stint in October 2009 when he faced Brooks at the promotion’s “Black Tie Brawl 2009” event.
However, Brooks spoiled Subora’s MMA debut by compelling him to wave the white flag with a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Following the disappointing defeat to Brooks, he bounced back by thumping Mann via first-round technical knockout at URCC 16: Reckoning in March 2010 and then choked out Panchito Estrada at URCC 17: Havoc four months later.
In addition, Subora came out on top of 2010’s “Black Tie Brawl” occasion as he turned the lights off on Robertson Tubosa with a punch in the opening frame.
Subora was able to capture the URCC heavyweight title in November 2011 by thwarting Ryan Paglinawan before successfully defending the belt against Marcus Valda with another knockout two years later.
After conquering the URCC heavyweight ranks, Subora’s path directed him towards ONE FC, where the international MMA audience will see him strut his wares for the first time as part of the “Warrior’s Way” fight card on December 5 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
“There is no perfect word to describe it, but it feels great! I did put a [lot of] hard work over the years to get to where I am right now. ONE FC gave me a chance to fight internationally. There are few guys that made it to the international organization and I feel very happy to be one of them,” he stated.
Getting ready for ‘The Truth’
For his initial ONE FC assignment, Subora is taking on a hometown favorite in Brandon Vera, who parted ways with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in June 2014 to ink an exclusive contract with Asia’s largest MMA organization.
READ: Brandon Vera seeks career rebirth with One FC
“Vera is a big name in MMA, especially in the Philippines. I feel privileged to fight a fighter like him,” Subora said of his opponent.
Vera (12-7, 1 NC) last fought in August 2013 at UFC 164, where he was stopped by Ben Rothwell by third-round technical knockout.
The 37-year-old Fil-Am stalwart became a member of the UFC roster in October 2005 as a heavily-hyped heavyweight prospect, finishing 7 of his 8 adversaries.
“The Truth” was expected to vie for the UFC heavyweight strap, but a yearlong contract dispute spoiled his plans for a championship crack.
By the time it was resolved, Vera was off his game and suffered two-consecutive setbacks in the hands of Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum.
Vera then elected to move down to light heavyweight, but the outcomes were mixed as he came up short to notable names such as Jon Jones, Randy Couture, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Keith Jardine.
The last time Vera had his hand raised in victory inside the cage was when he outpointed Eliot Marshall at UFC 137 in October 2011.
Despite dominantly winning his last five outings, Subora still considers himself as an underdog due to Vera’s credentials on his résumé.
“I am for sure the underdog coming into this fight, which is just fine with me. I have put myself into this because I fell in love with the sport. I have to test my skills or I will never know how good I am,” he claimed.
Subora confided that he is not bothered with the fact that most Pinoy combat-adoring hooligans will be rooting for Vera even though he is considered as a product of the Philippine MMA industry.
“It doesn’t bother me at all. I got used to it. I never felt the crowd was on my side, especially fighting a Filipino fighter,” he shared.
On a personal note, Subora asserted that his boxing will be an advantage against Vera and added that he knows the impact if he can pull off the upset at ONE FC: Warrior’s Way.
“I consider my boxing as my edge, but we will have to wait until December 5. Getting a win over Brandon would be huge for me. I’m confident with my style of fighting. Those who watched my fights before know what I am capable of,” Subora warned.
Although his cage counterpart has Filipino heritage, Subora is nonetheless confident that he has his team’s undying and steadfast support.
“I have the best coach who does not give up on me, as well as teammates who support me. All these people are Filipinos. I did all my trainings here in the Philippines. Actually, I was hoping that fight fans would appreciate every fighter, no matter where they come from. Every fighter trains hard to put up an exciting heck of a fight for them,” he said.
When asked if the Philippines had a big contribution to his success in the sport, Subora simply replied, “Definitely, I would not have come to this country if I were not certain of having a career here.” – Rappler.com
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