The wait is finally over for 19-year-old mixed martial arts prodigy Jhanlo Mark “The Machine” Sangiao – as well as the global fan base, who have been eagerly awaiting his arrival to the Circle.
This Friday, 17 December, the Team Lakay prince will make his promotional debut against Indonesian veteran Paul “The Great King” Lumihi in the opening contest of the ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II main card, which airs from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
For Sangiao, this is the next big step toward his childhood dream.
Ever since he was a little kid, the Baguio City native has trained under the tutelage of his father – Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao – and had the opportunity to learn from the gym’s most successful talents including former ONE World Champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, and Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio.
The teen star is part of the world-renowned gym’s new guard, who have studied Team Lakay’s signature brand of wushu striking while simultaneously adding equally potent grappling skills.
So far, that combination has led to a flawless start in his career, as “The Machine” owns a trio of stoppage victories. And even though his 33-year-old Indonesian rival has four times the amount of competition experience, the Filipino rising star feels his skills and athleticism will be too much for “The Great King.”
Ahead of his bantamweight mixed martial arts clash with Lumihi, Sangiao sat down with ONEFC.com to talk about his forthcoming debut, sharing the card with Belingon, and much more.
Jhanlo Sangiao: I believe I’m going to be as successful in my debut. I’ve been preparing for this for a long time. This is a fight that I was waiting for since I was a kid. This has always been a dream of mine. Now, it’s all about making sure we end up on top and making this dream a reality.
ONE: Clearly, this is a big moment, and there is a lot of pressure on your shoulders. How do you handle it?
JS: I handle the pressure by training all the time. If I train all the time, I don’t have to worry or stress out about the pressure that’s on me.
ONE: You’re making your debut against Paul Lumihi, who is much older and more experienced than you. Is he the oldest fighter you’ve gone up against?
JS: I think he’s the oldest fighter I’ve faced. I’ve faced older men in the amateurs, but not this old. They were, like, 28. But I feel like youth is an advantage of mine. I feel like I’m stronger, I’m younger, and I can beat him.
ONE: So, break down Lumihi for us. What do you think of his skills?
JS: Based on what I’ve seen, he’s more of a striker, but he tends to struggle when the fight hits the mat. He either gets submitted or gets punished on the ground. But it doesn’t matter. Wherever this match goes, I feel like I can take him on. But of course, I don’t want to be overconfident.
ONE: You’re a striker too. Who do you think is the better striker in this matchup?
JS: Of course, I am the better striker. I feel like I have the edge over him in a lot of stuff. I’m younger, much more powerful, and I get to train with some of the best strikers in the world.
[I get to train with] World Champions like Joshua Pacio, I get to train with Danny Kingad, and of course, my sparring partner is the most lethal striker in ONE, Kevin Belingon. That’s why I am confident that I am better than him in striking.
ONE: Speaking of Kevin, when was the first time you watched him fight? And how does it feel to share the same card with him now?
JS: I was so young back then. I think I was only 14 when I first watched kuya Kevin, and I’m so happy that we’re now on the same card. It’s a fun feeling, working side by side and training along with someone that I really look up to in preparation for our matches.
When I was a kid, I was so amazed with kuya Kevin’s striking. I really told myself that I wanted to be on that level, or maybe even better. And now, we’re here.
ONE: What’s your prediction for this fight with Lumihi? How does it end?
JS: Anything can happen. But of course, I want to get that bonus, whether it’s that submission or knockout. When that opportunity comes, I’ll be taking it.
ONE: Last question: If you were to lose, will your dad ground you?
JS: No (laughs). It’s a good thing we don’t have an agreement like that.