February 1, 2023

Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao has a plan to restore Cordillera’s premier gym to its former glory.
After it finished 2018 with five world champions, the four golden quartet all lost their belts in the first three months of 2019 leaving Filipino fans scratching their heads and wondering what had gone wrong.
However, green shoots of progress began to emerge after that as Joshua Pacio reclaimed the ONE strawweight world title and defended it twice, Danny 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 said 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 is to keep on winning, work on their weaknesses, and become more rounded so there’s no weakness in them – whether 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.
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, Demetrius Johnson, to stop his winning streak at ONE: Century in Japan last year.
Kingad rebounded from that defeat in style in January and set the standard for the other athletes that Sangiao believes can reach the top again.
“We want Danny to win it, and as much as possible, I am also hoping for Kevin’s resurgence and maybe Eduard Folayang can get his belt back as well,” he said.
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 added.
“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. – ONE release