It’s tough to be a heavyweight in South East Asia because suitable sized training partners are few and far between and opportunities to fight don’t come around often, as Igor Subora knows only too well.
The Ukrainian is set to take on Brandon Vera in the co-main event of ONE FC: Warrior’s Way in Manila on Friday and, despite being the reigning URCC heavyweight champion, Subora has not been able to fight nearly as frequently as he would have liked.
“The reason I haven’t been fighting much is that when I came into the URCC heavyweight division, I just cleaned it and they were having hard time finding opponent for me,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
Subora’s record stands at 5-1 and he has won five straight fights by first-round stoppage. This run of form not only secured a title, it also brought him to the attention of the ONE FC matchmakers, who have handed him a promotional debut in Manila.
To say that Subora is excited about the prospect of taking on an opponent who has a big international fan following after fighting 16 times for the UFC is something of an understatement.
“I am ecstatic. I did not expect that ONE FC will give me this fight or make me the co-main event on my debut with them and I will be sure to showcase what I have and put on a heart-pounding and breath-taking fight.”
Subora has turned his career around after a disappointing debut when he was submitted late in the opening round by a more experienced opponent and he says that proved to be a valuable learning experience.
“I lost my first fight because of my lack of skills, that is plain and simple. My opponent, Pete Brooks, was an experienced fighter who was 4-0 at that time and I jumped straight to pro without any amateur fights. I have to admit that I was excited to be in the cage and fight because I thought I was ready and it was a loss which made me a wiser fighter.”
The Ukrainian bounced back to win his next five fights and become the URCC heavyweight champion. He says that loss inspired him to take a more methodical approach to MMA training.
“After the fight, I changed camps and then I met my boxing coach, Melchor Espinosa, the brother of Luisito Espinosa, who won world titles in two different weight divisions. He is a great coach and he rebuilt me as a striker.”
Subora admits that he struggles to find heavyweights to train with, but believes this is a factor that could play in his favor as he prepares to take on Vera.
“It’s hard to find big guys here, but that might be a good thing as I always train with smaller much faster guys who have better cardio and when I do get the chance to train or spar with bigger partners I find it easy to handle them,” he said.
Subora, who has a background in Combat Sambo, has lived in the Philippines for six years and says that when the opportunity to sign on with ONE FC arrived, he didn’t hesitate to take it.
“ONE FC is the biggest MMA organization in Asia and I signed up with them because I wanted to fight fighters who are already well known internationally.”
They don’t come much better known than Vera, who visited the Philippines numerous times on promotional trips during his UFC career, and Subora wants to secure a career-defining win over the Filipino American veteran.
“Even when I don’t have a fight, I need to continually train. It is like air or water for me, and if I beat Brandon Vera, it would be a moment in history, the greatest achievement of my career.”
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