Team Lakay patriarch and head coach Mark Sangiao is elated with the growing community and development of mixed martial arts in the Philippines, especially the rise of female fighters in Singapore-based promotion ONE Championship.
“Lumalabas na rin pati mga Pinoy and I’m very happy na dumadmi na rin ‘yong mga representative natin at hindi lang sa lalaaki, kung ‘di sa babae pa,” said Sangiao during an online press conference.
ONE Championship is set to hold the historic all-female card ONE: Empower on Friday, Sep. 3 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, where three Filipinos will represent the country in the Circle.
Team Lakay’s very own Jenelyn Olsim will face Thai-American Grace Cleveland in the atomweight grand prix alternate bout while No. 1 contender Denice Zamboanga will take on veteran South Korean foe Seo Hee Ham as part of the initial roster.
Filipino-American Jackie Buntan will also lock horns with Argentine opponent Daniela Lopez in a strawweight muay thai bout.
Sangiao said this goes to show how combat sports, MMA in particular, continues to prosper through the years.
“Meaning malaki na talaga ang MMA dito sa atin so sana makuha natin ‘yong championship belt nung grand prix,” added the soft-spoken Team Lakay coach. “Kung sino ‘yong masipag dyan at papalarin sila ‘yong makakakuha pero sana sa atin ‘yon, iuwi natin sa Pinas.”
Olsim, who just defeated veteran Vietnamese-American Bi Nguyen, for her part, expressed gratitude for being part of the inaugural tournament.
The 24-year-old Team Lakay stalwart will have the chance to compete against the eight original female atomweights who were part of the grand prix.
“Sobrang imporatnte kasi historical siya na like wow kasali ka doon sa card na ‘yon,” said Olsim, who holds a a 5-2 record.
“Tatanungin ka na lang nila isang araw. Sobrang saya ko kasi siyempre mapapasama ‘yong team namin don maliban kay Denice na [from] Philippines din. Makakasali din ako from Philippines, from Team Lakay.” (Carlo Anolin) ###