Team Lakay coach: Watch out for our new generation

Published June 21, 2021, 10:08 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao will be banking on his next generation of warriors as the famed Benguet stable unfold their new chapter in mixed martial arts.

In this file photo, Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao (right) gives pointers to ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio, one of the fighters expected to lead the team’s next generation. (ONE Championship)

As the sporting world slowly recovering from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, Sangiao has been training the new breed of MMA fighters with the help of the Team Lakay veterans namely Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Honorio Banario, and Geje Eustaquio, to name a few.

Sangiao believes that it is high time for the young ones to take over or continue the legacy left by their seniors in Team Lakay.

With their humble beginnings in showcasing wushu and kickboxing, the Team Lakay patriarch is proud to expand their skill set to achieve a complete package in his wards.

READ: Team Lakay coach grateful for recent signings with ONE Championship

“‘Yong years na ‘yon kailangan natin makita ‘yong weaknesses natin at ‘yon ‘yong natutunan natin (We have learned to overcome our weaknesses through years of experience),” Sangiao told the Manila Bulletin in a recent interview. “Inimprove namin kung ano ‘yong mga kulang, which is ‘di mo naman mai-improve yan ng isang araw, isang buwan, isang taon lang. Kasi ‘yong mga kalaban mo dyan 10 to 15 years tine-train yan (We improved what we lacked and this cannot be done in just a day, a month, or even a year. Their opponents have spent 10 to 15 years to train these skill sets).”

“So ngayon, makikita ‘yong mga changes sa mga athletes natin, which is being a complete athlete — mixed martial arts. Pang mixed martial arts talaga ‘yong discipline na ipapakita nila (Right now, this is what they will see on our athletes — being a complete athlete — mixed martial arts. They will show mixed martial arts in their discipline).”

Leading the said next generation is reining ONE strawweight king Joshua Pacio, who holds a 19-3 record. Though Pacio has been in the Singapore-based promotion since 2016, Sangiao believes he still has a lot to offer as a young 25-year-old.

READ: Pacio downplays being labeled as ‘new face of PH MMA’

Aside from Pacio, Danny Kingad, the No. 2 flyweight contender, and Stephen Loman, the longest reigning champion in BRAVE Combat Federation, are also expected to step up for the team. Then come Jenelyn Olsim, who competes in the women’s atomweight division, Jeremy Pacatiw, and Jhanlo Sangiao, the son of coach Mark,who will fight in the bantamweight.

Pacio and Olsim themselves proved their points by submitting their most recent opponents in the Circle.

Pacio defended his title over former champion Alex Silva of Brazil while Olsim, 24, also won her promotional debut bout against another Brazilian in Maira Mazar to take the No. 5 spot.

READ: Joshua Pacio unfazed despite being the lone Filipino MMA champion

With Sangiao’s intensive program, Team Lakay has slowly proved that its fighters are capable of battling toe-to-toe with their opponents — be it on foot or on the ground.

“Nakita naman nila na kahit mapunta siya (Pacio) doon sa field nila — sa ground — nakita natin paano sila mag-escape. ‘Yon ‘yong mga makikita nilang changes sa new generation natin (We have witnessed how Pacio tried to overcome a submission on their comfort field — which is on the ground — and we saw how he escaped. Those are the changes they’ll see with our next generation),” added the older Sangiao. “Makikita nila na kumpletong kumpleto sila. So watch out for the skill set na ipapakita ng mga new generation (We’ll see that they are complete. So watch out for that skill set they will showcase).”

READ: ‘Warrior spirit’ source of strength for Igorot athletes