Manila’s Eugene Toquero will be making his thirteenth trip to the cage on Friday Night, 21 April, and he will be doing so in front of a hometown crowd.
The fans at the Mall of the Asia Arena will be entertained by flamboyant flyweight Toquero once again at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY, when the 35-year-old takes on unbeaten Indonesian grappling wizard Stefer Rahardian.
Toquero is currently on a two-fight skid, but he has made some crucial adjustments to his preparation. He is confident that if Rahardian takes him lightly, it would be a catastrophic mistake.
“If my opponent did not train well, then I will eat them alive inside the cage,” the Filipino says, bluntly.
When Toquero launched his professional MMA career, he was on a hot streak. In fact, it was blazing hot. After winning his debut at a local show in 2011, he racked up four consecutive TKO wins in a Filipino regional promotion.
The Manila resident generated considerable buzz, and that led to him signing with ONE Championship in 2013. Quickly, he noticed the difference in competition.
“Fighting in PXC before was such a good experience for me, but here in ONE Championship, this is a huge organization with a lot of very good fighters from all over the world that challenge fighters like me,” explains Toquero. “I am glad to be a ONE fighter. This is what real fighters want.”
Toquero has never really been able to find a groove within ONE, as the flyweight’s career has turned into a turbulent rollercoaster ride. He has lost four of his last seven fights in the promotion, dropping bouts against current Interim ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes, and most recently, top prospect Danny Kingad at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION last December.
For the Filipino, the size difference played a huge role.
“Most of my opponents were bigger than me, and that made it hard for me to win,” Toquero says, reflecting of his recent fight skid. “I have made other adjustments. I train longer and harder now.”
Those are not the only adjustments he made for his upcoming bout in Manila. He also switched fight camps. No longer training with Submission Sport Philippines, Toquero is now working with Hybrid Manila MMA, and as a result, he believes this forthcoming contest with Rahardian will be different. In fact, he vows to “fight smarter.”
Toquero will need to be on top of his game, because all at once, he is defending his home turf, attempting to snap his losing streak, and trying to make the first blemish on Rahardian’s unbeaten record.
The Jakarta native is undefeated for good reason. Rahardian, who splits his time between Bali MMA and Jakarta MMA, is the ONE Indonesia Flyweight Tournament Champion, and holds a perfect 5-0 record. The 30-year-old Carlson Gracie brown belt last competed in January at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER, where he outclassed Jerome S. Paye en route to a unanimous decision victory.
There is not too much footage available on the Jakarta native, but Toquero is far from concerned. In other words, no tape? No problem.
“l do not watch my opponents fight videos,” he admits. “I never study my opponents. l do not care who they are, because in Muay Thai and my amateur fights we never know who our opponents are. We train in the gym.”
Although he is dedicating his time in the gym, Toquero also has a strange ritual to gauge his chances in a fight.
He believes running his fingers through his black hair gives him an idea of how the fight will go. Toquero claims he has done this in the past, and the results have been quite telling — if his hair remains standing up, he will win, but if it falls down, then the Filipino knows he has something to worry about.
However, with the amount of time and energy he has put into training, the Manila, Philippines native is determined to secure the victory at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY, regardless of what his hair might foreshadow.
“If my hair stands up or falls down it does not matter,” Toquero states. “This time, l will make sure that my hand is raised as the winner that night.”