YANGON—Former pro mixed martial artist (MMA) turned coach George Castro said after subjecting Bernard “Burn” Soriano in a 10-week intense training, the Filipino fighter is ready for his much-awaited bantamweight clash with undefeated Chinese foe Chen Lei in the undercard of the ONE: Hero’s Dream this Friday at the Thuwanna Indoor Stadium.
Soriano failed to follow up his impressive 15-second knockout win over Mario Satya Wirawan when he absorbed a first-round technical knockout loss to hometown bet Saiful Merican in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last February.
But all that is water the bridge now and Soriano, sporting a well-chiselled body this time, is raring to go against the same Chinese fighter, who finished Merican in the third round with an armbar during their fight last August in Macau, China.
“We made some changes, only really to just tighten stuff up, be more technical as he gets up on the floor, clean up the striking a little bit. But the main thing we worked on was his conditioning because as you can see how he looks, his body has transformed into an athlete,” Castro said Thursday during the media availability here at the Rose Garden Hotel.
“I think you guys will be amazed at the conditioning he has on Friday night.”
The wide-bodied Castro said Soriano’s high metabolism allowed him to eat almost anything, consuming high-calorie food considering the hard training he went through for the last 10 weeks.
“We let him eat pretty much what he wanted. We took a few things away towards the end of camp just to clean up a little bit, but he’s got very high metabolism,” said Castro.
“And the way we’ve got trained him and the way we train in Lions training center even back hme in San Diego is very high intensity. So the fighter can eat almost anything they want during camp until the later parts of the camp that he gotta cut weight.”
For Soriano, he admitted a lot has changed since Castro started training him for his ONE Championship fight.
“Dati wala (akong coach) kasi ako lang yung coach before. I own the gym and the team and I’m the head coach so this is the firts time I have a coach,” Soraino said.
“I feel like everything has changed when it comes to decision making. Na kung ano ang gagawin sa training, before, nung ako nagha-handle sa sarili ko, dahil ako ang coach, kung ayaw ko na gawin, di ko na siya gagawin, unlike si coach George), pinu-push niya ako.”
Soriano considers his upcoming three-round bantamweight encounter with Chen as a chance to regain the luster on his professional career.
And Castro can’t help but agree.
“He knows that (importance of the right). He’s calm, he’s prepared, he’s confident. His conditionig, he’s ready to do five rounds, if not 8, 10 rounds if we need to on Friday night,” shared Castro, who previously served as the strength and conditioning coach at Alliance MMA in San Diego, California.
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