ONE Championship: After disappointing night in Manila, it’s back to the drawing board again for Team Lakay
Santino Honasan on Aug 03, 2019 12:03 PM
“One win and four losses, but again, it’s not the first time that we’ve experienced a case like this. We’ve gone 0-5, and again, we learned a lot of lessons from tonight, and we’ll be back to the drawing board," - Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
ONE Championship’s third trip to Manila for 2019, ONE: Dawn of Heroes which was held last August 2nd at the Mall of Asia Arena, was tagged as the biggest martial arts event in Philippine history.
With fans packing the stadium, it was the perfect platform for La Trinidad-based mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay to showcase their talents in front of what could possibly be the biggest ONE crowd in Manila.
Unfortunately for Team Lakay, ONE: Dawn of Heroes would prove to be an unfavorable night for the most part.
“1 and 4,” said Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao during the post-event press conference. “One win and four losses, but again, it’s not the first time that we’ve experienced a case like this. We’ve gone 0-5, and again, we learned a lot of lessons from tonight, and we’ll be back to the drawing board. We’ll go back to the hotel and discuss what happened.”
The preliminary card was nothing short of a disaster for Team Lakay, as former champions Geje Eustaquio and Honorio Banario, and featherweight contender Edward Kelly all absorbed painful losses.
Kelly, who was the first on deck, fell victim to unintentional illegal blows to the back of the head at the hands of Chinese contender Xie Bin, rendering him unable to continue. With the bout already past the halfway point when the infraction occurred, a technical decision needed to be made, and it went in favor of Xie, who had been dominating Kelly all throughout the first one-and-a-half rounds.
Hoping to right the ship and get himself back on track as well was former ONE Featherweight World Champion Banario, who took on a short-notice replacement in South Korean Dae Sung Park. Banario was originally slated to face Russian Timofey Nastyukhin, but instead went to the prelims after Nastyukhin needed to pull out due to an injury.
Banario found himself in trouble early on after getting rocked with a left high kick and an elbow, but was able to survive and make things competitive for the rest of the bout. Banario had his moments, but it was Park who was in control for the better part of the three-round bout, leading to a unanimous decision win.
“Siguro the lesson I learned in this fight is I need to train more,” a dejected Banario said during the post-fight presser. “I gave everything in the fight, but it wasn’t my night, so I think the next time, I need to train more and improve my game.”
With the loss, Banario is now riding a two-fight losing streak, and while he admitted that the short-notice opponent change may have thrown him off his game for a bit, “The Rock” offered up no excuses for the defeat.
“Just a little bit, because my opponent changed to a southpaw, I tried to adapt for three weeks, but there’s no excuses. I lost the fight and [I need] to go back to the drawing board,” he said.
Hoping to be able to end the slump was former ONE Flyweight World Champion Eustaquio, who was coming off a bounce-back win back in Singapore. Against a heavy-handed Japanese striker in Yuya Wakamatsu, Eustaquio was hoping to get a win and throw himself back into title contention. Instead, Wakamatsu had other plans, as he landed a stiff right straight that knocked Eustaquio out in the first round.
It was Eustaquio’s first loss via knockout.
“Things happen, you know? In this level of competition, it’s either you get knocked out or you will knock him out. It’s just that tonight was not my night. I hope, and I believe that this is going to be a big stepping stone for me to become a better athlete,” he said.
In what was Team Lakay’s main event for the night, former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang faced arguably his toughest challenge yet in former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie Alvarez in a ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal bout.
Folayang appeared to be within moments of victory after chopping Alvarez down with a vicious leg kick and pouncing on the grounded American.
Over-aggression led to a bit of carelessness for Folayang as he found himself getting reversed as he was looking to finish Alvarez off.
With the American star now in dominant position, it was only a matter of moments before he managed to impose his superior grappling and submitted the Filipino hero with a Rear Naked Choke just a little over two minutes into the opening round.
“I think, for Eduard in this fight, the major lesson that we learned is that ‘Don’t rush. We’re winning.’ I thought we won already, but because of small details, we’re in the [world-class] calibre, so small details will finish everything and lose the fight, so next time, we’ll be cautious,” Sangiao said of Folayang’s loss.
The lone bright spot for the team was their youngest Lakay in Danny Kingad, who rallied back to defeat Reece McLaren in their ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinal bout. With the win, Kingad advances to the Finals to face American MMA icon and former long-time UFC Flyweight king Demetrious Johnson, who was also victorious that night against Japanese contender Tatsumitsu Wada.
Kingad and Johnson are set to square off at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan this October.
As Coach Mark said, this isn’t the first time that Team Lakay has felt disappointment in Manila. In fact, they have gone worse.
Back in 2013, Team Lakay went 0-5, with Folayang, Eustaquio, and Banario and Kevin Belingon all suffering losses that night in Manila.
But following the downs are usually ups, and Team Lakay has had their share of ups as well since then. They have gotten quite a few clean sweeps and even ended 2018 with four world championships, which means that all is not lost for the Igorot warriors, and Sangiao is confident that his team will regain their glory in the future.
“As I’ve said, this isn’t the first time that we’ve experienced cases like this. Before, we experienced going 0-5, and now we will be back again, and I know that they will be back stronger and better.”