In the past few years, Team Lakay has been a major force in Asian MMA scene, especially in Philippine MMA. They are one of the reasons why Philippines is the hot bed for MMA in Asia today.
Team Lakay is the home of MMA champs such as ONE FC featherweight world king Honorio “The Rock” Banario, who is also the current URCC lightweight title holder. The Baguio-based MMA fight team is also the residence of PXC world bantamweight champion Crisanto “The Slugger” Pitpitunge, URCC welterweight champion and Martial Combat Superfight title holder, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, URCC flyweight champion, Kevin “Silencer” Belingon and the longtime URCC flyweight title holder, “The Punisher” Rey Docyogen.
If there is one man who is responsible for producing such great fighters, that would be none other than Team Lakay’s head coach, former URCC bantamweight champion, and former SEA Games Gold Medalist, Mark “The Machine” Sangiao.
Sangiao is a long-established martial arts practitioner. From kickboxing to taekwondo, judo to Brazilian jiu jitsu, Sangiao is truly, the pioneer of MMA in his home town Baguio City and arguably one of the people who brought MMA in the Philippines into a whole new level.
Sangiao knows how to build champions, he knows how exactly a fighter should train and eat because he is a former fighter himself; he understands the point of view of every fighter who trains at his gym.
Team Lakay’s journey on top continues as they prepare for the biggest fights of their MMA careers. Mark Sangiao is getting his fighters ready for two of the most anticipated mixed martial arts events not only in the Philippines, but in whole Asia, as 8 of his best pupils will compete in PXC 37 and ONE FC 9 ‘Riste to Power’. Both events will be headlined by two Team Lakay world champions.
First up, PXC 37, happening on May 18th at The Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, Philippines, as the current champion Crisanto “The Slugger” Pitpitunge makes his first-ever title defense against the undefeated and ground specialist from Japan, Michinori Tanaka. Also, two of Team Lakay’s young fighters, Troy “The Hunter” Bantiag and Jerome Wanawan will make their appearances at the said PXC event. Bantiag will go up against Guam’s Trevin Jones, while Jerome Wanawan looks to comeback to his winning ways against a very talented fighter from San Pedro, Laguna, Ernesto Montilla Jr.
After PXC 37, the mammoth ONE FC 9 ‘Rise to Power’ is up next for the Baguio-based fight team. The current ONE FC world featherweight champion from Team Lakay, Honorio “The Rock” Banario will also make his first title defense against a seasoned veteran in Koji Oishi of Japan.
Four more well-recognized Team Lakay fighters will make their toughest fights so far as Eduard “Landslide” Folayang faces WEC and UFC vet, Kamal “Prince of Persia” Shalorous, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon battles grappling wizard Masakatsu Ueda for the Bantamweight GP Finals, Rey “The Punisher” Docyogen takes on former UFC fighter, Yasuhiro Urushitani and “The Gravity” Geje Eustaquio is finally back inside the ONE FC cage against his toughest opponent to date, Phuket Top Team’s Andrew Leone.
Mark Sangiao’s pushing his fighters to the limit to prepare them for tough battles against some of the big names in Asian MMA today. Team lakay fighters are known for their excellent condition, power and rigorous training regimen. Mark is assured that his boys are ready come fight night due to a very much-improved training that his fighters are doing for the big events coming up,
“They are doing great. The training leveled up compared to the last ones because they are training together and they know that they have their own big fights to win.”
Getting a fighter ready for a big event is a very difficult taks to do. But from Mark Sangiao’s standpoint, as long as you and your fighters work together, nothing is impossible,
“No, it’s not hard to train them because we really work as a team and brought in some additional coaches who specializes in boxing and Muay Thai. Also, we have our own Sanshou background that we can add well with some wrestling techniques. We also added some extra time on our grappling. But all in all, training our guys here isn’t too difficult.”
Aside from bringing in coaches who specializes in Boxing and Muay Thai, Sangiao also arranged additional outdoor training for his fighters and added extra hour to every practice just to make sure that they are well prepared when they go to battle,
“We adjusted our time of practice; we extended our training hours. Also, in this training camp, we only not focused ourselves inside the gym and having uphill sprints, we also added some extra training at Teacher’s Camp here in Baguio City for strength and conditioning. So those are some of the adjustments that we made for this camp.”
All of Team Lakay fighters that will compete at PXC 37 and ONE FC 9 are matched up against world-class grapplers. It is evident from their past fights that whenever a grappler fights a Lakay fighter, it is either that grappler’s going to give the Lakay fighter a tough fight or submit him.
But as we all know, the game is continuously evolving so as the fighters. Lakay fighters, through their setbacks against ground specialists, gave them a serious motivation to train harder and focus more on sharpening their grappling skills.
First on Mark Sangiao’s list is Crisanto Pitpitunge’s title defense against Michinori Tanaka, who we all aware of being such a deadly fighter whenever he’s on the ground. Sangiao has been working on improving Pitpitunge’s take down defense and how to escape from various submission holds. Also, in PXC 37, Troy Bantiag will face Trevin Jones, a fighter who has a very intimidating wrestling game and serious punching power. Jerome Wanawan will make his first appearance of the year as he comes off a humbling loss against Eugene Toquero last year,
“Crisanto’s training is great. We know that Tanaka’s well-trained on the ground and has very decent grappling skills. That’s why we trained Crisanto’s take down defense and focused more on his grappling because we know Tanaka will try to take him down, so we also practiced various submission escapes.”
“Troy and Jerome also are doing great. They are very positive the whole training because they really want to win their fights. Another great thing about this camp is that everyone is helping each other to improve. They are forcing everyone to sharpen their skills and aim to level their skills up together. They will be ready on May 18th for PXC 37.” Sangiao added.
After PXC 37, ONE FC 9 ‘Rise to Power’ is next as Honorio Banario defends his title against Oishi, Belingon battles Ueda for the GP finals, Docyogen faces former UFC fighter, Urushitani and Eustaquio to lock horns with Leone.
Banario captured the title against Eric Kelly on February 2, 2013, at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Now that he is going to defend his belt for the first time, fighting in front of his home crowd adds up to the pressure. It is a tough task to fight world-class fighters in your backyard, but Sangiao is confident that Banario and the rest of his fighters will be 110% ready on May 31,
“Honorio’s training is phenomenal, especially that Eduard is fresh from the U.S and has some great techniques with him that he can impart to his training partner, Honorio. He really wants to retain his title and I am happy to see him doing all his best in every training session we have.”
“With regards to Oishi’s ground skills, I saw some of his fights and the truth is, he is not really that fighter who loves to take the fight to the ground. I watched some videos of him and he also likes to strike. I am pretty sure that this fight is going to be electrifying. My prediction for this match up is that thousands of fans will be on the edge of their seats. But just in case Oishi will take Honorio down, we are ready for that; Honorio can beat Oishi at his own game.”
Fresh off his TKO victor over Thanh Vu last April 5th in ONE FC 8, Belingon’s next assignment is to beat a fellow GP finalist, Masakatsu Ueda.
Belingon is an extraordinary fighter. He comes to every fight with a lot of surprises. Whenever he steps inside the cage, he is a different man, a much-improved fighter every time he fights. He will face another high-level grappler in Ueda for the ONE FC Bantamweight GP Finals,
“Ueda is very refined on the ground, but Kevin obviously has a significant advantage in the striking department. If Ueda will take Kevin down, I’m positive that with the much improved grappling skills of Kevin, he can keep up very well with the Japanese’s game. Kevin is getting better and better every fight. So I know he will soon be a contender to the ONE FC Bantamweight title.”
After 7 weeks of refining his ground game in the U.S, the poster boy of Team Lakay, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is back and hopes to beat Kamal Shalorous using his much-improved ground game. Sangiao believes that Folayang’s U.S trip was a huge eye-opener for the reigning URCC welterweight champion to train harder to improve his wrestling and jiu jitsu game,
“We cannot say that in just 7 weeks of his training in the U.S, we can see a well-versed Eduard Folayang on the ground. But at least, he absorbed some important techniques that he can use in his future fights. His U.S trip was a great eye-opener for him to work harder to refine his grappling.”
Shalorous has been in the UFC and fought some of the best in the world, which makes him a real threat to Eduard Folayang. But Mark saw something about Shalarous game that Eduard can take advantage of and he believes that his pupil will win the fight,
“We watched some of Shalarous fights and we saw something that Eduard can capitalize on. I cannot reveal what it is, but I think Eduard is much faster and technical than him. I know he can beat Shalorous. But if Eduard can do it via KO or TKO, much better.”
When asked if his boys are ready for PXC 37 and ONE FC 9,
“Of course, they are good to go. But as of now, we are very cautious about them not getting any injuries as the fight day approaches very fast. That’s the only concern we have right now.”
Being a coach, adviser, provider and a second father to his fighters, aside from making their dreams come true; one great thing about handling these fighters in Sangiao’s assessment is changing those fighters to become a better person,
“That’s one of the great things about this sport. We’re dealing different personalities and change them for the better. For me, even if sometimes I am not around during practices, I know they will do their part as a fighter. I know they will do what is right whenever they’re in the gym, even though sometimes my eyes are not monitoring them. Because I am always telling them that you will not be a champion unless you train like one.”
When asked on who are the naughtiest Team Lakay fighters,
“I would say Rey (Docyogen) and Honorio (Banario). (Laughs) Unlike their other team mates, those two are the loudest people everytime we train; they always make their team mates laugh. Also, Troy (Bantiag), maybe it’s because of his age, but he sometimes doesn’t take things seriously, but I understand that. He still got a long way to go.”
Last year, through his personal Facebook account, Sangiao asked a question to his fans on whether they like to see him back in action inside the ring/cage. It was obvious in the comment thread that a lot of fans and friends want him to go back and fight. But due to his tight schedule preparing his fighters to various gigantic MMA events around Asia, it seems like he really hang up his gloves and focused himself on handling his fighters and setting up local MMA and grappling tournaments,
“We already discussed about that matter, but as much as I’d like to go back into fighting, with the tasks I have as the head coach of the team; organizing some local shows like Team Lakay Championship and Team Lakay Grapplers’ Cup, it is really rational for me to not fight anymore. It’s not that my body cannot do it anymore, it’s just my schedule is so tight that I cannot train hard because I have more important things to do like those I’ve mentioned a while ago. So right now, that is my focus, coaching and organizing our events.”
When asked on what advice he can give to those coaches who look up to him,
“For me, to be able to stay hungry in the sport, is they need to check their passion for this sport. Then they need to look at the future of MMA in our country. If they want to be successful in this sport, all they need to do is focus and get real serious about it.”
“I am always saying about this to other coaches – we need to have healthy competitions among us. If we have events here in Baguio, they are welcome to join us. If they do have events in their own provinces, we are glad to join and help them. Let us just take away that traditional mentality of comparing each other’s abilities; we need to have a healthy competition. We need to learn from each other for the benefit of the sport. Here at Team Lakay, we are willing to invite them to join our events. We set aside our pride because we know that we also need the knowledge of Muay Thai practictioners, Wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu, for us to be a well-rounded.” Sangiao added.