Riding high again, Team Lakay lauded by ONE chairman as best team in Asia
Santino Honasan on Jul 30, 2018 05:12 PM
“Nasabi ko nung huli na babalik yung team na mas-malakas pa.” - Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao
At the end of 2017, Benguet-based MMA stable Team Lakay found themselves on a bit of a downslide.
After riding high for the latter part of 2016 and most of 2017, the team absorbed a number of bitter losses, including the KO loss that cost Eduard Folayang his ONE Championship Lightweight world title.
Now, a little over seven months into 2018, Team Lakay is once again reaching new heights.
2018 saw flyweight star Geje Eustaquio become the interim flyweight world champion in January, and then unify the titles against Adriano Moraes in June.
Friday at ONE: Reign of Kings in Manila, Team Lakay gained another world champion in bantamweight knockout artist Kevin Belingon, who defeated two-division world champion Martin Nguyen to become the interim ONE Championship Bantamweight World Champion.
Team Lakay is also home to reigning BRAVE FC Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman.
Already with three current world champions in their stable, it’s highly likely that there’s more to come.
Former champions Folayang and Honorio Banario are currently tearing it up in the lightweight division, and both of them are very much in the title picture.
Strawweight standout and former title contender Joshua Pacio is on a solid streak of his own, with three straight wins via stoppage. The 22-year old could be getting another crack at the championship again soon.
While names like Edward Kelly, Danny Kingad, Gina Iniong, and April Osenio are also all part of the top-tier of their respective divisions.
It’s shaping up to be yet another banner year for Team Lakay, and head coach Mark Sangiao saw it coming. After all, bouncing back isn’t anything new for the Philippines’ most prestigious MMA team.
“Mayroon yung mga time, nasabi ko nung huli, nung unang mga ONE, matatalo kami ng 0-5, pero pinilit namin.” Coach Mark said during the post-fight press conference, Friday evening. “Tinignan namin talaga yung mga kulang, yung mga weak side nila, tapos na-improve hanggang sa bumawi kami, same with sa 2016.”
2016 saw Team Lakay go on a 16-fight winning streak, and then in November of that year, Folayang captured the ONE lightweight crown after dethroning long-time champion Shinya Aoki.
“Tapos pumunta sa 2017, medyo may mga nag-pabaya.” Sangiao bared. “Nasabi ko nung huli na babalik yung team na mas-malakas pa.”
True enough, Team Lakay has managed to bounce back and has gained even more prestige in the last couple of months.
In fact, ONE Championship founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong has even gone so far as to say that he believes Team Lakay is the best team there is in Asia.
“ I have massive respect for all fight teams, but I believe there is no question that Team Lakay is now the #1 fight team in Asia today.” Sityodtong said in a Facebook post. “Despite a very modest budget and limited resources, Mark Sangiao has produced one of the best fight teams in the world. Every fighter on Team Lakay is a genuine monster with outstanding skills, unlimited cardio, and extraordinary gameness.”
High praise from the head honcho himself, and the owner of Evolve MMA in Singapore, another one of Asia's most talent-laden MMA stables.
With all the success that the team is enjoying now, it’s up to them to keep the momentum going.
They've been low, and now they're on a high. There's no doubt that they possess the talent, the skills, and the heart to go even higher.