The Team Lakay tradition of excellence in ONE Championship becomes more secure as the son of Head Coach Mark Sangiao, Jhanlo Mark, signed a contract with the promotion. The younger Sangiao, who inherits his father’s moniker “The Machine” is expected continue Team Lakay’s no non-sense performances and carry the flag for the Philippines in years to come.
The young igorot MMA Prodigy Jhanlo Mark Sangiao is expected to lead the ‘New Breeds’ of Team Lakay Fighters in ONE Championship and join relatively young fighters Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 25, holder of a 17-3 career fight record and the only current Filipino ONE titleholder; and Danny “The King” Kingad, also 25, holder of 14-2 career fight record whose only loses are to legends Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson, in heading the Team Lakay charge when their older superstars finally decide to call it quits.
Pacio is the lone Filipino to be included in ESPN’s Under-25 list of mixed martial arts fighters of 2020.
Combined with their other talented mainstays who are in their prime that includes Stephen Loman, 29, and Lito Adiwang, 28, Team Lakay should be in the running for multiple title bouts in the distant future.
Team Lakay is the most prolific martial arts outfit in the country feature a collection talents that includes current and former world champion martial artists in the world’s largest martial arts organization, notably former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario, former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, and Pacio, the current ONE Strawweight World Champion, among others.
The 19-year old was in disbelief when he was handed the ONE Championship contract but is excited to fulfill his lifelong dream of joining his kuyas [older brothers] in Asia’s biggest MMA promotion.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I was shocked when my father gave me the contract. But when I saw the ONE Championship logo on the piece of paper, I read it and I was in disbelief,” Sangiao said of the moment he received the ONE Championship contract.
“I can’t really explain what I was feeling. I was definitely excited. Since I was a kid, I had wanted to be here for so long. It has been my dream. I wanted to compete like all my kuyas in the gym.”
Raised in and around a martial arts environment as a young boy, Sangiao began training in the gym at the age of six. But it wasn’t until he took home gold medals in a local Muay Thai competition at 14 when he realized he had real talent.
From that point on, Sangiao says he began to take his training and a potential professional career seriously, honing his skills on a daily basis under the guidance of his father, who is considered a pillar of Philippine mixed martial arts.
Now, with his impending ONE Championship debut, Sangiao is motivated more than ever to continue the Team Lakay tradition of excellence, and carry the flag for the Philippines.
“I’m just grinding right now, training each day, and just getting myself ready both physically and mentally. My father always tells me to just be ready because my time will come, and here we are,” Sangiao said.
“There’s definitely pressure on me to do well, no escaping that. People will come up to me, asking me when I’m making my debut, so in my mind, that’s pressure in itself. People expect a lot, and I have to be at my best. But that kind of pressure makes me happy.”
In 2018, Team Lakay was considered arguably the best martial arts team in Asia, having held four out of eight potential world titles under the ONE Championship umbrella. But while the blueprint for success is clear, Sangiao is looking to carve his own path to greatness.
“The moment I signed that contract, my father told me, ‘This is it. This isn’t the amateurs anymore. You have to be ready. You have to be better. You’re on the big stage so don’t act like an amateur anymore,’” Sangiao said.
“There are a lot of expectations on my end, given that it’s the big stage. There’s a lot of pressure, but I’m willing to put in the hard work to grab every opportunity.”
Sangiao promises fans they won’t be disappointed when he finally makes his Circle debut. The 19-year-old “Machine” is excited to represent the new era of Team Lakay, and showcase a complete arsenal of mixed martial arts skills.
“When they say Team Lakay, the first thing that comes to people’s minds is ‘these guys are deadly strikers.’ But for me, I believe I’m part of a new breed. I’m part of a new generation of Team Lakay fighters who have built new weapons,” Sangiao said.
“Our team is evolving, and we’re dangerous in all areas.”
By Armando M. Bolislis