A highly-touted veteran of the Philippine mixed martial arts scene will be making his long-overdue debut on the sport’s global stage.
Ernesto “Iron” Montilla Jr. will be fighting for flag and country on March 17 at ONE Friday Fights 9, emanating from the legendary Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I’m so excited for this opportunity that ONE Championship has given me. I’ll pour everything into my training in order for me to give them and the fans a great performance,” he stated.
The 30-year-old spitfire from San Pedro, Laguna holds an impressive professional record of 10-4 with an 80-percent finishing rate—six wins by submission and two via knockout.
He has been in the industry for more than a decade and has a wealth of experience under various local promotions on his resume.
With a solid background in boxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Montilla has won over die-hard Filipino fans with his well-rounded skill set and high-octane offense.
The former Philippine Flyweight Champion was one of the 16 contestants who vied for the US$100,000-worth contract on the ONE Warrior Series Philippines reality television series, where he made it into the final three before eventually bowing out of the competition due to an injury.
Fortunately for Montilla, he gets a second bite at the cherry after falling short in his bid on the show.
“I did all I could on ONE Warrior Series Philippines, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant for me. But this time, I won’t let it slip and I will stop at nothing,” he said.
“I’ve waited for so long to step onto the big stage. When this fight was offered to me, I didn’t think twice and I grabbed the chance.”
In his maiden international assignment, Montilla is penciled to lock horns with Japanese dynamo Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada.
Wada, a semifinalist in the 2019 ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, owns a 24-12-2 win-loss-draw card and has faced the division’s brightest stars such as Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, Danny “The King” Kingad, Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov and Reece “Lighting” McLaren.
In addition, Wada has won three of his last five outings and looks to build momentum towards entering the rankings for the very first time.
Wada poses to be a tall order for the debuting Montilla, but the Filipino would rather focus on the potential reward he could reap by taking on a high-profile opponent.
“In every fight, they have always wanted to test me. All I can say is I’m a well-rounded fighter. Wherever I go, I have something to offer,” he shared.
“I don’t want to underestimate my opponent. I’ll do my best to beat him whether in striking or grappling.”
The Philippines is on a roll as of late, with Fritz “Kid Tornado” Bigatan scoring a thunderous third-round knockout of Nurmukhammad Adamkhonov at ONE Friday Fights 5 last February 17 and then Kingad’s three-round domination of Eko Roni Saputra at ONE Fight Night 7 over a week later.
Montilla seeks to jump on the trend and sustain the nation’s ongoing streak.
“I’ll be gunning for the finish, either knockout or submission. I’ll attest that Filipino fighters are strong,” he declared.