It was in ONE Championship where Angelie “The Explorer” Sabanal, 29, made her debut as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. Fighting out of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, she earned a unanimous decision victory over Rika “Tiny Doll” Ishige, 29, of Bangkok, Thailand at “ONE: Iron Will” at the Impact Arena in Bangkok on March 24, 2018.
Ishige was heavily favored to win the bout against Sabanal. But the relatively unknown Filipina martial artist entering a high-profile match on a stacked card begged to disagree and educated everyone about who she is and what she is capable of.
A national Muay Thai silver medalist, Sabanal pulled off a major upset in her ONE Championship debut, greatly relying on her savvy Muay Thai background to rout the Thai rising star via unanimous decision. She showcased her pinpoint accurate striking early on, peppering Ishige with stinging kicks and stiff punches.
Although Ishige boldly traded strikes with Sabanal from bell to bell, the latter pulled away in the final round, landing the more telling blows. In the end, the Filipina contender earned the undivided nod from the three judges at cageside.
“I did not know what to do,” Sabanal recalled. “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.”
On November 17, 2018, Sabanal will compete in the ONE Championship cage for the second time. She will be one of the three fighters to represent the Philippines at “ONE: Warrior’s Dream” at the Stadium Istora in Jakarta, Indonesia.
At “ONE: Warrior’s Dream,” Sabanal will compete in the women’s atomweight division against Priscilla “Thathi” Hertati Lumban Gaol, 30, of Jakarta. The latter is a SEA Games Wushu bronze medalist.
Sabanal is confident that she will have her hand raised in triumph once more at the expense of a competitive Jakarta native like Gaol, who has won four of her last five matches in 2018. The Cagayan de Oro native said, “I want to win again because I want to give back to my gym and the people who love and support me.”
“I am competing for my country,” Sabanal added. “Everything I do is for all of them and as long as I can do this, I will keep doing this.”
“I don’t mind if they have no idea who I am before the fight. What matters most is that the fans in Jakarta will remember me after the match. Surely, I will do my best in my upcoming bout this Saturday,” she ended.
Get to know a little bit more about Sabanal here: