The saying wisdom and understanding belong to the elder because they have experience under their belt certainly applies to martial arts pioneer Mark Sangiao.
You see, Sangiao is more than just the founder and head coach of one of the most prolific martial arts outfits in Asia, Team Lakay. He’s also the team’s spiritual leader, a father-figure to many of its younger members, and their guide through the often convoluted world of mixed martial arts.
Team Lakay is home to many great athletes and world champions, many of whom trust Sangiao with their lives.
So it certainly comes as no surprise that Sangiao has a pretty good idea of what could be next for some of his most prized pupils.
The 41-year-old veteran recently shared his thoughts on potential matchups for his wards in ONE Championship.
This week’s piece will feature his matchup thoughts on his most accomplished veteran fighter and our rundown to his suggested fight:
Sangiao’s preferred opponent for Eduard Folayang
“There are a lot of great matchups to be made at lightweight for Eduard, but the one man he wants most is Christian Lee. Eduard is out for redemption, and he’s training very hard to achieve his goals.”, says “The Machine”
Sangiao likes Folayang’s odds against the young titleholder, should they meet in the ONE circle.
“The lightweight division is one of the deepest in ONE Championship. There are so many great talents, and anybody can beat anybody on any given day.
But Eduard Folayang is the best of the best. He’s the former champion and he’s so hungry to get that belt back. I’ve never seen him work harder in his career than now,” said Sangiao.
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Rundown on coach’s take
While an Eddie Alvarez-Lee fight would probably be a tussle majority of fans like to see first, a Folayang-Lee joust is not far behind.
Even Lee welcomes this matchup.
It will be recalled that the reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion made an interesting proposition when he expressed interest in defending the belt against Folayang.
Lee is a very intriguing opponent for Folayang. He is an explosive finisher, often taking out opponents early by knockout, making this bout potentially action-filled given Folayang’s wide variety of stand-up weapons.
He made history by knocking out Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in May, 2019 to become the youngest male MMA world champion ever and defeat Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev to become the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Champion last October, 2019.
He is tied with Amir Khan for having the most knockouts in ONE history with 8 and is sporting an impressive 13-3 card.
His four other wins are by submission, making his finishing rate an outrageous 92.3%. He was still perfect before the Arslanaliev bout.
On the other hand, Cordilleran fight fans, as well as Folayang himself, should love to see this Sangiao take happen after seeing their boy encounter frustrating circumstances that prevented him from taking back the belt he once held twice.
Folayang has had pretty good chances in 2019 to position himself for a title shot but couldn’t pull through.
He visibly hurt Alvarez with a leg kick during their ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship semifinal bout but went on to lose the match by rear-naked choke.
Then he was tapped to take Alvarez’s spot in the finals due to injury but visa issues forced Lee to take the spot instead.
A dismal 2019, where he dropped two out of three matches, makes the 36 year-old Folayang a man on the comeback trail.
Before Sangiao’s revelation, Folayang was lastly reported to have been keen on taking a redemption shot at Alvarez first, but didn’t rule out taking on Lee’s challenge then.
Further, the “Landslide” currently sits outside of the Top Five in ONE’s official athlete rankings.
The installation of the rankings muddles where Folayang is right now in the pecking order at lightweight.
While ONE may need to pit Folayang against another contender before facing Lee, his overall performance in the promotion is something to persuade ONE matchmakers from using his recent bouts, a smaller sample size, to disqualify him from a shot at reclaiming the title.
It will be interesting how ONE resolves the debate on Folayang needing a win over a big-name opponent in order to position himself for a shot at “The Warrior”.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS
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