Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao is always proud when one of his students hits the global stage of ONE Championship, so imagine his elation at the signing of his son, Jhanlo Sangiao, to the big leagues.
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that the 18-year-old mixed martial arts prodigy inked a deal to compete in The Home Of Martial Arts, and the elder Sangiao is thrilled that his offspring will get to show the fruits of his labor to the world.
Give a warm welcome to Jhanlo Mark Sangiao, son of Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao, as he officially joins ONE Championship 🙌🎉🇵🇭
“As a father, there’s no describing it. Seeing him growing up, I know that he’s really passionate about it. He never stopped training, he has spent a lot of time honing his craft, so I told him to pursue it,” Mark says of Jhanlo, who plans to compete in ONE’s bantamweight MMA division.
”I’m really happy that he’s signed with ONE now. It’s the big stage, it’s where the best fighters are. It doesn’t end there though. I have to continue to guide and motivate him because he’s just beginning.”
It’s certainly special for the 42-year-old tactician, who’s a pioneer of mixed martial arts in the Philippines. Known as “The Machine,” he started his professional career in 2003 after training in kickboxing, taekwondo, and wushu since 1995.
Mark started up Team Lakay in order to prepare for his own bouts, and before long, he was leading from the front as both a fighter and a coach. Then in 2009, he stepped back from his own competitive career to focus solely on the stable’s other athletes.
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ONE didn’t hold its first event for another two years, but Sangiao made sure his fighters would be ready when the big opportunities arrived – and when they did, Team Lakay took The Home Of Martial Arts by storm.
“The Machine” has now coached five athletes to ONE World Championship gold, and with Jhanlo in the fold, there will be even more chances to conquer the mixed martial arts world.
“Personally, I am just so proud. I’m delighted that someone will continue my passion and my dream in the world of martial arts. He just needs to keep getting better and better so he won’t waste his time with what he’s doing,” Mark says.
“When I gave him the contract, I asked him one last time if he’s serious about this path. He said yes, so here we are. This is what he always wanted so now he just has to work hard on making sure he succeeds.”
While Jhanlo has earned rave reviews from those who’ve seen him work in the Team Lakay gym and compete in the amateur ranks, his dad knows that he still has a long way to go if he wants to become a true force in the bantamweight division.
With that in mind, Mark wants to ensure that his own experiences will help his son when it comes to crunch time, and he will offer up lessons that were learned the hard way through trial and error the first time around.
“There are a lot of things that we still need to develop; the most crucial thing is his composure. When you’re starting, your biggest opponent is yourself, so that’s one thing that we have to address for him,” Mark states.
“The nice thing is with the [COVID-19] situation now where there’s still no crowd, it could be easier for him to adjust to the big stage.”
Just like Jhanlo, Team Lakay is now reaching maturity, and the 18-year-old Baguio City outfit has certainly come a long way.
Fans have witnessed that in well-rounded athletes like reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and top flyweight contender Danny “The King” Kingad. Going forward, Mark believes that Jhanlo can showcase the next step of the training center’s evolution.
While he didn’t go into much detail on his son’s skill set, the head coach did confirm that Jhanlo’s ground acumen is one of his most potent tools, which is a stark contrast to Team Lakay’s longstanding reputation for striking.
When the talented teen competes in the Circle, Mark hopes fans will see the development of his team’s approach – a byproduct of years of experience competing on the global stage.
“They have to expect the new generation of Team Lakay in Jhanlo,” Sangiao says.
“They’ll see it. They’ll notice how the team truly developed from the first generation to this one. They better wait for him.”
Read more: The Untold Story Of Team Lakay