Nineteen-year-old Jhanlo Mark “The Machine” Sangiao has a weight of expectation on his shoulders before ever stepping foot inside the ONE Championship Circle.
As the son of famed Team Lakay coach and founder Mark Sangiao, the young Filipino has a lot to live up to. And he’ll get his first chance to impress the global fan base when he faces Paul “The Great King” Lumihi in a bantamweight mixed martial arts battle at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II this Friday, 17 December.
While it’s still very early in Sangiao’s career, former bantamweight king and Team Lakay veteran Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon – who takes on “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il in Friday’s co-main event – believes the phenom can follow in his footsteps.
“He’s really good. He’s strong, and I know he has a big chance of becoming a ONE Bantamweight World Champion in the future because I see the skills and the work ethic in him,” Belingon says.
Sangiao has spent his entire life around martial arts, rubbing shoulders with elite competitors and training under his father’s tutelage, so this step up to the big leagues was almost inevitable.
But to Belingon, it seems like only yesterday that “The Machine” was a small boy watching the team inside the renowned Baguio City gym.
“It wasn’t too long ago when Jhanlo was just a kid, a rowdy one, running around and playing,” the 37-year-old recalls.
“When we were reviewing and assessing our matches, he’d always be on his father’s side or on our side. He really literally grew up before our very eyes. And now he’s here, brawling with us during sparring. It’s amazing how time flies.”
Sangiao’s background meant he was always going to have a solid foundation in MMA, and the chance to work with multiple World Champions has helped his impressive development.
The values he learned are now second nature for the rising star, who holds a 3-0 professional record going into his ONE debut. “The Silencer” believes that’s a big part of what will make the teenager a success in The Home of Martial Arts.
“Coach [Mark] really has a good system for him, as he was raised well. I think Jhanlo will continue the legacy of his dad because he was disciplined really well,” Belingon says.
“He really does have a great attitude. His performance, his skills – Jhanlo is even more complete now because his attitude when it comes to training is great.”
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Attitude is a big part of the fight-game puzzle, but the Filipino veteran also knows that owning a well-rounded skill set will be crucial for “The Machine” to reach the top.
So far, that doesn’t seem to be an issue for the youngster. Sangiao has two submissions and a knockout in his three pro bouts, and while there’s plenty of room to improve, “The Silencer” is confident that more polish will come with additional experience.
“I believe he’s a complete fighter. He has different weapons. He can strike, and he can beat you up on the ground. He’s confident wherever the fight goes. It’s a big thing that he grew up training with us. He’s always been eager to learn,” Belingon says.
“His future at bantamweight is really great. He has a great chance to be a champion. Because he’s still really young, and he has really precise skills.
“He needs to add more and more techniques, but for now, his techniques are OK. He just really needs to fight more and win more.”
With both Sangiao and Stephen “The Sniper” Loman starting their journeys in ONE this Friday, Belingon is certain that big things are in store for his gym in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
“I can imagine that Team Lakay’s future will be even better because we can see the performance of our teammates and our performances, which are leveling up,” he adds.
“And then more young kids are joining us as well. They’re developing already. There’s a big potential for Team Lakay to produce World Champions again in the near future.”