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Sean Climaco disrupts ‘Filipino stereotype’ ahead of ONE Championship debut

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Sean Climaco disrupts ‘Filipino stereotype’ ahead of ONE Championship debut

UP NEXT. Sean Climaco in action

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Fil-Am mixed martial artist Sean Climaco breaks through the ONE Championship world on May 4 with a muay thai bout against Josue Cruz, culminating a years-long dream to make a name for himself

MANILA, Philippines – Many people think of Filipino-Americans and think nurses, doctors, and staffers. But one Filipino-American is challenging that perception after picking a career path in professional fighting.  

Sean Climaco, the 29-year-old who takes on Josue Cruz in a three-round flyweight muay thai bout at ONE Fight Night 22 on Saturday, May 4, has broken conventional standards and is now looking to build his life’s work in ONE Championship. 

His debut takes place at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, and is the culmination of all the hard work he’s put in. 

“We all know the Filipino stereotype is to become a nurse. That’s what my mom wanted me to be. I tried. At the same time, I had a part-time job in retail while training. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in terms of school,” he said. 

“I had my retail job for nine years while training and becoming a pro at the same time. And then finally, after I had five to six pro fights, I decided to go as far as I can with it. [It wasn’t] just something on the side to do because I love fighting. Now I’m making a career of it, taking it all seriously, just going to the gym training.” 

Climaco’s journey to ONE was far from easy. He had to go through disappointment after disappointment before reaching the pinnacle of the sport in the United States. 

The striker ascended the US muay thai circuit before an ACL injury decommissioned him in 2022. That, however, didn’t keep him from the grind for long. 

Once healed, Climaco had the chance to qualify for the Road to ONE: America tournament. This time, he wasn’t going to be denied and won all three of his qualifier bouts via knockout to secure his spot in the tournament. 

“It was a big redemption for myself. The year before, I won every single round of each fight from the qualifiers. I won all of the rounds. Before I fought in the finals, going into the second round, I was up by two. That’s where I tore my ACL,” he said. 

“It was crazy. To be able to come back from that, winning, then going to another tournament [and winning] – everything happens for a reason.” 

Now he plans to bring the same fire and excitement that won him the tournament to his ONE debut. 

“If you watched the Warrior’s Cup tournament,” Climaco said, “I finished all of the three fights. So I plan to do the same come May 4.” –

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