The nearly two-decade partnership between Eduard Folayang and Mark Sangiao has ended.
On Friday, March 10, Folayang confirmed that he is bidding farewell to Team Lakay.
According to the 39-year-old Philippine mixed martial arts legend, the need to explore and grow is what led to him leaving the place he has called home since 2006.
“For the last 16 years of my professional career as a mixed martial artist, I was in the company of brave and talented individuals in Team Lakay. This stable was a large element in what I have become and the stature I have arrived at in our beloved sport,” Folayang statement read.
“Words will not suffice to aptly impart how grateful I am for our camaraderie that has led to our achievements and victories inside the Circle, as well as the heartbreaks that have driven us to keep going in pursuit of our ultimate goal. I will forever cherish every moment like a precious treasure,” he continued.
“But as the oft saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Sadly, and with a heavy heart, my journey with Team Lakay has reached its final stretch.”
Folayang and Sangiao met in the wushu national team during the 2000s.
At the time, the two trained together, leading Folayang to win three Southeast Asian Games gold medals, a bronze in the 2005 World Championships, and a silver in the 2006 Asian Games.
In 2006, Sangiao, who was still an active fighter, formed Team Lakay along with Folayang.
Slowly, Folayang made his climb in the MMA world, winning the URCC Welterweight Championship in his debut fight against Allan Co in 2007 and the Martial Combat Lightweight Title in 2010.
In 2011, Sangiao decided to move his entire team to Singapore-based promotion ONE Championship.
Despite the rocky start the team had in ONE, they continued to persevere, eventually transforming the group into one of the most decorated stables under the promotion’s banner.
Folayang gave Team Lakay its second world title, slaying Shinya Aoki for the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
It began a golden age in Philippine MMA as Geje Eustaquio, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio would all follow suit.
Eventually, Team Lakay would lose all the belts, entering a new stage for the fabled camp.
But now, they would no longer have their “Manong” in the quest to restore their old glory.
“I believe there are still a few things I must accomplish in what remains in my active years as an athlete. The profession I have chosen requires me to learn, evolve, and grow. In order for me to achieve this, I must step out of my comfort zone and discover new ways to foster my development as a martial artist,” he said.
Grateful is Folayang for his stay there and is looking forward to starting a new beginning.
“I extend my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Team Lakay. I wish no less than the best for Coach Mark Sangiao and everyone under his wing. This is not a goodbye, but so long for now,” he expressed.
“I realize this will not be easy. But I hold onto the promise that the race is not given to the swift or to the strong, but to the one who patiently and determinedly endures to the end. Yes, we shall rise again. May the good Lord bless us all!”