Despite Joshua “The Passion” Pacio’s World Title-winning knockout and Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly’s come-from-behind TKO at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR, there was one man in The Mall Of Asia Arena with a bigger smile than both of them.
Team Lakay Head Coach Mark Sangiao has seen his squad of athletes go through a difficult 2019 so far, but on Friday, 12 April, he saw two of his students pull off two of the most spectacular results of the year.
Joshua Pacio scores a MASSIVE KO, reclaiming the ONE Strawweight World Title! Watch the full event on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, April 12, 2019
First, Kelly prevailed after a back-and-forth war with Sung Jong Lee, before Pacio reclaimed the ONE Strawweight World Championship with a jaw-dropping knockout of Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta.
Following his athletes’ wins, and wearing a smile as wide as Manila Bay, the veteran trainer gave his thoughts on the memorable Filipino performances, and where Team Lakay goes from here.
ONE Championship: What made you most proud of your athletes’ performances at the Mall Of Asia Arena?
Mark Sangiao: The support of the entire team, no matter who is competing, is something that I am very proud of.
It gives the competing athlete a huge boost of morale and it also displays their unity as brothers. It just goes to show how Team Lakay is not just an ordinary team, but a family who will be there for each other.
Words cannot describe how proud I am with Joshua and Edward’s performances. Even though some of the team and I were in Japan to support Eduard [Folayang], Kevin [Belingon], and Danny [Kingad’s] fights, they had this commendable work ethic to not slack off and train hard.
They were very professional in putting their careers first, even though the opportunity to visit a different country was there.
Edward "The Ferocious" Kelly sends Manila into a meltdown with a thrilling TKO of Sung Jong Lee at 2:51 of Round 2! Watch the full event on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, April 12, 2019
ONE: What does a night like this mean to the whole of Team Lakay?
MS: Winning both their matches boosted the confidence and motivation of all the athletes. We are called the kings of the rematch, and it shows how they really took time to point out their mistakes in their previous matches and work on those to be victorious.
A perfect example would be comparing Joshua’s first performance against Saruta where he was able to land two roundhouse kicks, but since he kept stepping back, it was not that effective. This time, Joshua was able to plant his feet and was on the offensive, and Saruta was not able to respond that much.
ONE: Is this the start of a comeback for the gym?
MS: I do believe that this is the start of Team Lakay’s comeback. We jokingly pointed out that Joshua was the first in our roster to surrender his World Title and now he is the first to win it back.
We are praying and working hard for the best, this is mixed martial arts where anything can happen, and the decision as to who gets to fight who is something that is out of our hands.
But we are constantly training to make sure that everyone is prepared and hopefully we will have everyone retrieve their World Titles.
ONE: How pleased were you that both men won decisively with finishes?
MS: When I saw Saruta drop to the mat I jumped for joy. This is it. The match has ended and we won.
I would like to commend the referee for immediately sliding between Joshua and Yosuke, because in the heat of the battle, sometimes there are certain things that do not register automatically – even Joshua stood there for a couple of seconds.
Any athlete in that situation with the adrenaline rush may have attacked their opponent, but the referee’s timing was really perfect.
Our goal was to really aim for the finish, if not have a dominant performance that would have seen the scores far apart. It would have been really difficult if we saw a close fight that was left to the judges and the match could go either way. It was really great that both Joshua and Edward got to finish their matches.
ONE: How concerned were you when Kelly’s bout was stopped for injury time – considering the disappointment when Kevin Belingon was disqualified at ONE: A NEW ERA?
MS: When I heard that an injury timeout was called and Edward was asked to stand in his corner, multiple scenarios rushed to my head, and I was really worried that history would repeat itself.
If that were to happen, it would tarnish the reputation of our Team Lakay athletes as cheaters or dirty players, which nobody wanted.
Thankfully Lee stood up and continued to compete, I respect him for that, given he could have just acted injured and got us disqualified again. Lee really showed his warrior spirit, and he displayed that he is a true martial artist who lives by the core values.
ONE: Pacio is now a two-time World Champion, but is only 23. How far can he go in his career?
MS: Though Joshua was able to beat one of the best athletes in his division and is now the reigning World Champion, he still has not reached his full potential, and there are still a lot of things he needs to work on and experience before we can say that he is the best strawweight athlete in ONE Championship.
With his accomplishments at a young age plus his professionalism, I can say that he is one of the World Champions who will be able to hold on to his World Title for a very long time.
Given that Joshua is currently at the prime age of a martial artist, what happens next in his career would be up to his discipline and decision-making.
Give him another two to three years in his current division, and he may follow the steps of Martin Nguyen where he can go up a weight class.