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Mixed Martial Arts

Team Lakay pay tribute to Mark Sangiao: ‘Dapat may belt na rin siya’

The journey of Team Lakay has been a roller-coaster ride. But through the highs and the lows, there has been one man who kept their ship afloat — their head coach Mark Sangiao.

Back in 2010, Sangiao, who was still at the prime of his life at 30 years old, decided to focus on coaching. Known as the ‘Machine’, Sangiao was still at peak condition, amassing a record of 7-2.

But Team Lakay needed a leader. It was Sangiao who had to make the ultimate sacrifice.

“Kasi napagdesisyonan ko ito eight years ago. They were there nung nagdesisyon ako, tinanong ko rin sila,” recalled Sangiao, referring to his stablemates. “Positive naman akong tao at wala akong pinagsisisihan.

“I’m very happy with that decision.”

There was a time though that saw the Baguio-based camp struggle as back in 2013, all five of Team Lakay’s fighters suffered losses in one night.

Sangiao saw the opportunity to rebuild the team from scratch and in 2016, Team Lakay figured in a 16-fight winning streak. But that was just a taste of what is to come.

In 2018, the famed camp made sure to bring home gold with them.

It all started with Geje Eustaquio unifying the ONE Flyweight World Championship against Adriano Moraes back in June.

Joshua Pacio followed it up with a masterful performance against Yoshitaka Naito to cop the Strawweight World Championship, three months later.

Then, Kevin Belingon implemented a perfect gameplan last November to hand Bibiano Fernandes his first loss in ONE Championship and, in the process, bag the Bantamweight Championship.

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To cap their spectacular year, Eduard Folayang reclaimed the ONE Lightweight World Championship after a dominant victory over Amir Khan to win the vacant belt.

Speaking on behalf of his teammates, Folayang, a local legend in his own right, admitted that Sangiao is a huge part in their success. Without his vision, not of this would have been possible.

“Actually, dapat si coach may belt na rin yan e.

“We are just grateful. Ang masasabi ko is that this is the fruit of the community. Sa Pilipinas, with the given talent, mas madami pang gold ang maproproduce natin. We help each other and we have the same vision to excel in the given areas that we are. We have a good team and a good coach. Yun lang masasabi ko,” expressed Folayang.

Eight years after retiring, Sangiao, 38, shared that he has no regrets with his decision. Seeing his ‘sons’ succeed makes him a champion as well.

“Nakikita ko lang yung mga belt dito, feeling ko champion na rin ako.”

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