Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad knows the pressure is on.
The Philippine national sikaran champion will attempt to the defy the odds on Saturday, 12 May. She will face surging hometown hero Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY, which broadcasts live from the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia.
“Of course, there is a lot of pressure because the fight is in her hometown,” the 20-year-old says. “But Filipino blood runs through my veins, which means I will just keep fighting. Our fighting spirit is on a different level.”
Trinidad already has experience competing in a rival’s hometown.
Although the Filipina striker was able to block out the noise at Bangkok’s Impact Arena, some distractions during her training camp meant she was not able to fully prepare for the contest, which affected her performance.
“Since it was my first time fighting for ONE Championship, I needed to go back to the Philippines to comply with the GAB (Games and Amusement Board) on licensing and stuff,” she explains. “In short, I really was short on [my training for] the ground game.”
That is where Trinidad came undone, as Ishige was able to lock her in a rear-naked choke in the second round to earn a submission victory.
Despite the loss, the Filipina’s spirit did not waver. In fact, she used the defeat as a learning tool.
“Even if you lose, you will get back up,” she says. “It gave me the motivation to keep going, get better, and be more aggressive. Most of all, it taught me to be humble in all aspects of my life.”
In anticipation of her clash with Gaol, “The Rebel” is attempting to correct her previous shortcomings.
Trinidad is now being coached by Andrew Benibe, a Filipino bantamweight champion, at Maic’s Gym in Marikina City. The facility also has a team that is helping her manage the other aspects of her preparation, such as acquiring the necessary documents to compete abroad.
“Thankfully, someone is helping me with all of that right now,” she shares. “I am blessed with my team because they are really motivating me and helping me with anything I need, so all I really have to do is focus on training.”
She will need complete focus and concentration if she is going to defeat “Thathie,” who is on a roll.
Gaol is an Indonesian national wushu champion and SEA Games bronze medalist. Like Trinidad, her ONE career did not get off to a smooth start, as she lost her first two matches in 2017.
However, with a new year came a new beginning, and she has scored impressive, back-to-back, first-round stoppages in 2018. The Jakarta native knocked out Audreylaura “Ice Comet” Boniface at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE at home in January, and then submitted Krisna Limbaga at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD in Myanmar a month later.
While Trinidad’s previous training camp focused on her stand-up skills, her current program is more balanced. “The Rebel” understands she needs to develop all aspects of her martial arts game, but is looking forward to the challenges of facing a fellow striker.
“She has a background in wushu – something that I will be facing for the first time in my career,” Trinidad acknowledges.
“We will now [see how] our skills clash in the cage. I do not want to claim that I will definitely win, so we will just see who among us will get the advantage first. [It is] survival of the fittest.”
Aside from all of that, Trinidad has some extra motivation when she steps into the cage on 12 May.
Not only does she want to get her first victory in the promotion and prove she can handle the pressure of defeating a local hero in their hometown, she will be celebrating her 21st birthday.
“It is really exciting because it is my birthday on fight day,” she declares. “It is a rare coincidence. If I win, it will be the greatest gift for me.”
Leaving Jakarta with a victory would also provide her with the boost she needs to start climbing twoards the top of the atomweight division.