Coach Mark Sangiao of the famed Team Lakay has seen it all in terms of Philippine mixed martial arts, and the patriarch could not be prouder that the sport he took care of is experiencing rapid growth in his home country.
While he has done so much for his stable, Sangiao will now take a slightly different role in developing not only the next Team Lakay star but also a new face of Philippine MMA.
He will play a vital role at ONE Warrior Series (OWS) Philippines where he will guide 16 Filipino MMA fighters to realize their dream of joining the pinnacle of the sport, ONE Championship.
The fighter-turned-coach said OWS will be a huge help for aspiring fighters in their quest to join Team Lakay and compete inside the circle.
“(It is) extremely helpful. OWS opens the door of opportunity for promising athletes and champions.It opens the door to an illustrious career and life-changing opportunities,” Sangiao said.
“Apart from that, OWS also shows the harsh reality of being an MMA athlete – that it’s not easy.It’s not just a test of physical strength and endurance but a supreme test of character, spirit, and of how far you can go and do to fight for your dream,” he added.
Sangiao is one of the brightest MMA minds in the world with five of his fighters winning world titles in ONE Championship.
He also saw how MMA was just an afterthought in the past decades with boxing hogging all of the combat sports headlines.
While it took a bit of time, MMA is now on the same pedestal as boxing and the Team Lakay head coach feels it will grow bigger in the coming years.
“Two decades ago, MMA was a foreign word in the Philippines; no one was talking about it, unlike boxing. There was no support, no headlines on the papers,” he said.
“Now, MMA is as noisy as boxing, or even more? We can see many MMA events, promotions, teams, MMA athletes all around the country. I feel very happy and fulfilled that the sport flourished into something like this and I guarantee it will be more popular in the future. I’m grateful that I and Team Lakay were there when it started from nothing and I and Team Lakay are still here thriving alongside the sport.” – ONE release