There’s a new teenage sensation to watch out for in ONE Championship, as Filipino mixed martial artist Jhanlo Sangiao has officially signed with the promotion.
The 18-year-old son of famed Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao has long been touted as the next big thing to come from the elite squad in Baguio City due to his impressive amateur career and World Champion lineage.
He plans to compete in ONE’s bantamweight division.
Give a warm welcome to Jhanlo Mark Sangiao, son of Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao, as he officially joins ONE Championship 🙌🎉🇵🇭
For Jhanlo, this is the realization of a lifelong dream. He’s grown up in Team Lakay – which has produced five ONE World Champions – and has witnessed his stablemates’ triumphs and heartbreaks in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
“I didn’t expect this. Even when my father gave me the contract, I was confused. I was like, ‘What is this?’ Then I saw the ONE logo, and I read it, and I was in disbelief,” the young Filipino says.
“I really can’t explain it because even when I was a kid, I truly wanted to be here. I wanted to compete like all my kuyas in the gym. So I’m really, really excited.”
Considering Team Lakay’s striking expertise, which is showcased by the likes of Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, and Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, much will be expected from Jhanlo on the feet. But fans who’ve witnessed him compete in the amateur ranks can attest that his skill set is already well-rounded.
In fact, the 18-year-old has favored his ground game in recent matches, with his last two victories coming via rear-naked choke. And he believes that his grappling represents the next big step in Team Lakay’s evolution.
“In my previous competitions in the amateurs, mostly I finish people with my ground-and-pound and submissions, so I guess that’s what people can expect from me. That’s all for now – it’s better if they see it for themselves,” Jhanlo says.
“When they say Team Lakay, the first thing that comes to people’s minds is, ‘These guys are deadly strikers.’ But for me, I believe I’m a different breed. I’m a part of the new generation that needs to build new weapons.”
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While the name “Sangiao” has become synonymous with mixed martial arts in the Philippines thanks to Mark’s brilliance as a tactician, it’s still different to have a family member competing inside the Circle.
Naturally, Mark beams when asked about his son reaching the big stage at such a young age – and he plans to be with Jhanlo every step of the way.
“Personally, I am just so proud. I’m just 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 just 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.”
Jhanlo knows he’ll be in the spotlight due to his famous name, his age, and his talent, but he’s ready to meet the challenge head-on.
He also plans to work hard and keep his eyes on the prize in hopes of accomplishing great things in The Home Of Martial Arts.
“There’s definitely pressure. You can’t deny that. You know people will come to me and tell me, ‘I’ve been waiting for your debut,’ so in my mind, that’s pressure because people expect a lot from you and you have to be at your best all the time,” Jhanlo says.
“There’s a lot of expectations on my end. Given that it’s the big stage, there’s pressure on me but I just have to be ready. I have to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself.”
Read more: The Untold Story Of Team Lakay