Angelie “D Explorer” Sabanal had a night to remember on Saturday, 24 March, as she made a perfect debut in ONE Championship.
The 28-year-old kicked off her cage career against hometown hero Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige at ONE: IRON WILL in Bangkok, Thailand, and claimed a hard-earned unanimous decision victory in their women’s atomweight clash.
Ishige received rapturous support from her home fans at the Impact Arena as she made a typically spectacular entrance. But when the bout began, it was Sabanal who delivered the superior performance.
Working from the southpaw stance, Sabanal looked to engage from close quarters early on, and caught an Ishige kick to score the first takedown of the contest.
The Thai’s best work of the round came from the clinch, where she scored with some solid knees against her shorter opponent, and forced the debutante against the cage, where she worked her Muay Thai knees from the clinch.
Sabanal came out more aggressively at the start of the second frame, and dominated the stand-up exchanges throughout the stanza. The Filipina, who is a national Muay Thai silver medalist, had worked out the Thai star’s timing. She was consistently catching “Tinydoll” as she looked to close the distance.
The bout was hanging in the balance heading into the final frame and, with just over half a round to go, Ishige scored the takedown the Bangkok crowd were looking for. Sabanal would not be denied, however, as she gamely scrambled and worked her way back to her feet.
After 15 minutes of breathless back-and-forth action, the result was left to the judges to decide. With Sabanal’s superior work rate, and higher strike output, she earned the unanimous decision victory.
“Tinydoll” will return to compete another day, but ONE: IRON WILL was the night that introduced “D Explorer” to the world as a new exciting talent in the women’s atomweight division.
With multiple shows scheduled for Manila in 2018, Sabanal could soon receive the opportunity to build upon her hard-earned debut win with a bout on home soil later this year.