Proficiency in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is often considered a cornerstone for success in mixed martial arts, and Prof. Gibran Langbayan is ecstatic about the recent strides that Lions Nation MMA made in this field.
Langbayan, a distinguished Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, assumes the crucial role of Lions Nation MMA’s grappling coach.
Having played an instrumental part in the team’s inaugural campaign under the ONE Championship banner, where Eduard Folayang and Joshua Pacio picked up pivotal wins, the 37-year-old maestro faced a unique challenge.
And he delivered outstanding results when Lions Nation MMA joined the ASJJF Manila Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2023 over the weekend.
The stable fielded eight skilled competitors who collectively brought home an impressive total of 11 medals across both Gi and No Gi categories.
The relief on Langbayan’s face was palpable, considering he was responsible for promoting key members like Folayang, Pacio, Kevin Belingon, and Jeremy Pacatiw to blue belt earlier this year.
“There is a little bit of pressure since I have an added responsibility to them since they’re former champions,” he told Tiebreaker Times
“However, these guys are developed athletes already. You don’t have to worry about them anymore. They’re just so good at picking things up and grasping the concepts.”
Fortunately, the faith he placed in Pacio, Belingon, and Pacatiw bore fruit as they demonstrated significant progress in the tournament.
Pacio emerged as a standout performer, securing two gold medals in the male blue adult featherweight and openweight No Gi divisions
Meanwhile, Belingon mirrored this success by claiming the top spot in the male blue master 1 lightweight and male blue master 2 openweight No Gi categories.
On the other hand, Pacatiw’s star shined the brightest in Gi, claiming a pair of gold medals in the male blue adult lightweight and openweight brackets.
It wasn’t just the established stars who brought glory to Lions Nation MMA. Rising talents like Aaron Posawen, Denver Songaben, and Nicholai Joel Amurao also contributed to the group’s remarkable medal haul.
Their joint efforts led them to capture the overall championship in No Gi.
Optimism radiates from Langbayan as he envisions the recent success overshadowing past criticisms about Lions Nation MMA’s ground game.
“They have a solid foundation that we hope to continue building upon. They might even be the more dominant ones on the ground in the future,” he stated.
Despite the camp’s revered reputation in MMA, Langbayan revealed each member’s eagerness to learn and improve, proving that they are not afraid to get their hands dirty in the pursuit of excellence.
“The wonderful thing about them is that they pick up on what I teach so easily. I find no difficulty in teaching them. It’s easy for them to imitate what I teach. Their progress is very fast too,” he shared.
Langbayan believes that this achievement is a watershed moment for Lions Nation MMA.
“They’re extremely dedicated. That’s also something encouraging to see—that they continue to push themselves beyond their limits despite their past accomplishments,” he said.
“I’m confident that at least one, or even all of them, will become a champion again [in MMA].”