Mark Sangiao is ready to lead his troops to victory in Macau.
The Team Lakay head coach has spent the past eight weeks preparing three of his Igorot warriors for battle at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, and he is confident each of his athletes will leave the Studio City Event Center on Saturday, 23 June with another victory.
Sangiao is in for a busy night, but at an event of this magnitude, he would not want things any other way. The Filipino mastermind is excited to see his team step into the spotlight on the global stage.
He talks about that, and more, in this exclusive interview.
ONE Championship: Team Lakay has three members competing at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER. One week away from event night, do you feel they are ready?
Mark Sangiao: Right now, we are at the peak of training, and our fighters are 100 percent ready. Even with the bad weather [in Baguio], we still push through with our regular outdoor training sessions. No matter what the circumstances are, nothing can stop us.
This is how World Champions train. Our spirits are high, and we are excited to march towards victory.
MS: Preparations for Adriano Moraes are excellent. I feel we have covered all the bases – from striking to grappling.
We know our opponent is a world champion grappler, and we have to be careful, but we are prepared for anything. The fight can head in any direction, but Geje has much more control now than ever before. His striking will shine in this bout, as well as his defense.
ONE: Why do you think Geje can beat Moraes and become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion?
MS: He is a sponge of knowledge. Everything there is to learn about martial arts – he absorbs it. When he makes mistakes, he learns. He is constantly learning in every situation.
Geje is always hungry and determined, and he has been preparing and eagerly looking forward to this time since he was defeated by Moraes four years ago. Now, it is his time for victory.
MS: In Team Lakay, we have a basic principle – no matter the opponent, we consider every single fight as our toughest fight, and Narantungalag Jadambaa is no different.
We are preparing Edward for the toughest opponent of his career, no doubt. It will take a monstrous effort, but with determination and faith, we can achieve success. Jadambaa may be strong and sturdy, but Edward is fast and cunning, and can turn the lights out on any opponent in an instant.
ONE: In what ways has Edward evolved as a martial artist?
MS: Edward is continuously growing into a more complete fighter. He has a better understanding of what he can and cannot do now, and we never cease in honing every aspect of his skill set.
In training, we drill hard so we cover all the bases. Rest assured, we have worked on his striking and his grappling for this bout, and we are prepared for the best Jadambaa yet.
ONE: If Edward beats Jadambaa, do you feel he would be next in line for a shot at the ONE Featherweight World Title?
MS: A winner of four of his last five bouts, Edward Kelly is one of the hottest fighters in the featherweight division. Beating Jadambaa, the former ONE Featherweight World Champion, can only mean a ticket for Edward to get that much-awaited title shot.
This match is momentous for us – he has no other option but to win. If we can get the victory, we march closer towards the World Title, and Edward is one of the most talented fighters in his division right now. We are in a great position.
MS: Danny’s loss to Moraes made him a stronger, more confident fighter. Moraes handed him the biggest lesson of his career. After their bout, I saw a renewed Danny Kingad – he is more focused than ever before and more diligent with his training.
Each time you see him perform, he is more resolute and more mature, and much stronger mentally and emotionally. I believe in his talent, and I think he has the potential to be one of the best in the world. It is only a matter of time. He is on the right path.
ONE: What did Danny prove to himself in his victory over Sotir Kichukov?
MS: Danny’s match against Sotir was the determining factor for whether Danny could conquer his own demons or not. The victory did wonders for his self-confidence. He proved to himself that he could overcome a tough challenge, even when things did not go his way.
I think it taught him a lot about how he can depend on himself to find solutions to even the most difficult problems. I am sure in his next match, Danny will be even more confident, and he will give a better performance.
ONE: What kind of challenges does he face against his opponent, Ma Hao Bin?
MS: I think Ma and Danny’s skills are similar – both are aggressive and explosive strikers, and both can wrestle and grapple on the mat. This fight will go down to who can execute their game plan better. It is all about strategy from this point.
While people in the crowd will see an exciting showdown, we will be looking at the tactical side of this match-up. There is so much more that goes on than people realize. We are working on a great game plan for Danny so he can achieve victory.
ONE: Finally, with so much at stake for all three athletes, how important is this event to Team Lakay?
MS: It is the same as every event – very important. Each event can further make us or break us. We put everything on the line, every time. We give it our all, and we leave nothing left in the ring. This is how we fight with heart.
Win or lose, we do our best, and we either leave that arena victorious, or we learn our lessons. Every fight is a step forward. Experience is the greatest teacher.
We will be out in full force in Macau, and it is going to be an exciting night.