Team Lakay Head Coach Mark Sangiao has a plan to restore the Baguio City premier gym to its former glory.
After it finished 2018 with four World Champions, the golden quartet all lost their belts in the first three months of last year to leave Filipino fans scratching their heads and wondering what had gone wrong.
However, green shoots of progress began to emerge after that as Joshua “The Passion” Pacio reclaimed the ONE Strawweight World Title and defended it twice, Danny “The King” Kingad made it to the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix final, and some of the team’s other stars have picked up highlight-reel wins.
Sangiao says that as long as everyone pulls together, continues to stay dedicated to their training, and performs to their full potential, there is no reason why the Lakay collective cannot rediscover their golden touch.
“The plan moving forward is to keep on winning, work on their weaknesses, and become more rounded so there’s no weakness in them – whether it be on ground or wrestling,” he says.
“We want them to be complete because we want all the belts back that we lost.”
The focus is not only on the former World Champions in the group, however. There are plenty of rising stars in the team, as well as athletes who are already on the cusp of glory.
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Kingad, in particular, is recognized as someone who has the potential to win a belt after it took the greatest pound-for-pound mixed martial artist on the planet, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, to stop his winning streak at ONE: CENTURY.
“The King” rebounded from that defeat in style in January and set the standard for the other athletes that Sangiao believes can reach the top again.
Even if the team can achieve those milestones, that will not be the end of the story.
Sangiao is keen that his squad can build a long legacy, and that means defending the gold, as well as building new World Champions, too. The key to all of that is to stay motivated and committed to evolving as mixed martial artists so they can get the edge on their peers.
“We should never stop learning and searching for the next steps moving forward. Whatever we get, if we achieve one thing, we don’t stop there,” he adds.
“We have to keep moving forward and think of what our athletes need. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who are standing in the cage and we need to give them everything they need, both physically and mentally.
“They have to be 100 percent ready when it comes to the cage and that’s the reason why we have to work as a team.”