‘Just Enjoy The Ride’ – Jhanlo Sangiao Excited To Spearhead New-Look Team Lakay At ONE Fight Night 13
Team Lakay has long been the most dominant force in Filipino mixed martial arts, and despite the recent exodus of many of the gym’s veteran stars, the future still looks incredibly bright for the famed Baguio City outfit.
Rising star Jhanlo “The Machine” Sangiao is among the new generation leading the charge, and he’ll look to maintain his unbeaten slate against surging Mongolian Enkh-Orgil Baatarkhuu at ONE Fight Night 13: Allazov vs. Grigorian on Prime Video.
Given that three former ONE World Champions were among those who splintered from the gym, its morale and team spirit could have taken a hit.
However, Sangiao insists that is not the case ahead of his matchup with Baatarkhuu on August 4 in North American primetime.
The 21-year-old told onefc.com:
“Honestly, I don’t think [the veterans leaving] affected us at all. We have a lot of new athletes to compete under the Team Lakay banner. I have new sparring partners now, so we’re fine.
“Take Carlos Alvarez for example. Seeing Carlos Alvarez continue to win fights in ONE Friday Fights definitely excites me. I’m pumped up to continue winning myself seeing Carlos build a streak of his own.”
With a perfect 6-0 MMA record overall and three finishes in ONE Championship, Sangiao has emerged as one of Team Lakay’s most prominent competitors – especially considering he’s the son of founder Mark Sangiao.
Alongside the likes of #2-ranked bantamweight contender Stephen Loman and former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio, “The Machine” is keeping the spirit burning bright, although the humble youngster is reluctant to consider himself any different from his teammates.
Still, if others view him as the leader of the next generation, he’ll do his best to fulfill that role:
“I don’t really look at myself as the new face of Team Lakay. I just want to let things move naturally. Just enjoy the ride, train hard, and then show [what I can do] each time I get the chance to compete. That’s my goal.
“If they want to say that I’m the face of the team, then thank you. I’ll try to live up to that.”
‘Culture Of Collaboration’ Now The Main Priority For Team Lakay
One thing that is non-negotiable for the athletes who’ve remained at Team Lakay is their commitment to one another.
No one individual is worth more than the collective, and with this mindset, they can start to write their new chapter together under the guidance of the experienced coaching staff.
For his part, Jhanlo Sangiao thinks this selflessness and teamwork will see the gym continue to thrive and push more MMA stars toward the top of the ONE Championship rankings.
“I don’t think there’s a special treatment when it comes to being ‘the guy’ now in Team Lakay. It’s equal treatment, whoever has a fight coming up, that’s where we focus.
“I guess it’s all about building that new identity now, a culture of collaboration where we focus on helping each other out, particularly to those who have a fight coming up, sharing what we’ve experienced with each other.
“It also helps that my father has been in the sport for a long time and he’s been on top of things as a coach. He helps us out and gives us advice. Of course, being someone who hasn’t really fought that many fights, I always seek the advice of my father.”
With that expert guidance from his father and the unwavering support of his teammates, Sangiao believes he can continue his upward trajectory toward the bantamweight MMA division’s top dogs.
That starts with his battle against Enkh-Orgil Baatarkhuu on August 4, and with a combination of stand-up and ground skills, he feels prepared to snap his opponent’s impressive eight-fight winning streak.
“The Machine” added:
“Looking at Baatarkhuu, I feel l can hang with his wrestling. We have great wrestlers on our team who can help me in my training. Plus, I have Team Lakay’s signature striking so this is a win.
“I have lots of faith in myself and in my training. I believe in my partners at Team Lakay and I know that I have the best coach in my corner in my dad, so I’m confident that I can hang with anyone.”