There is a polarized reaction from the Filipino mixed martial arts (MMA) community to the controversial fights organized by the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC), the first MMA promotion in Southeast Asia. On Aug. 25, I asked Team Lakay head coach Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, one of the experts in Asia, on his thoughts on the said URCC fights.
Recently, supporters praised the URCC for raising awareness on MMA . More Filipinos became fans of MMA when Baron Geisler and Kiko Matos headlined an event in 2016.
On Aug. 12, Matos made his URCC comeback and won his first MMA fight. He defeated Bill Jack Sanchez, who had earned popularity after posting a video on social media calling out Matos and Geisler.
While the URCC earned supporters for its celebrity fighters, some criticized the promotion for including fighters who they think lack the experience. For Sangiao, this is not a problem as long as the safety of the fighters in the cage is ensured.
Adding celebrity fighters in fight cards is part of the marketing strategy of URCC, Sangiao noted. As long as the promotion trains the celebrities that they involve in the fights, there should be no problem with that, the Team Lakay head coach added.
Sangiao himself was once a URCC bantamweight champion. The title was also once held by former UFC fighter and Team Lakay member Dave “Scarecrow” Galera and is now held by Drex Zamboanga.
As the head coach of Team Lakay, Sangiao has trained top Filipino MMA fighters Honorio “The Rock” Banario, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, Danny “The King” Kingad, Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly, Gina “Conviction” Iniong, April Osenio and the reigning ONE lightweight world champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang. Most of them fought under URCC before signing with ONE Championship.
In Baguio, Team Lakay will hold “Team Lakay Championship XIV” on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Baguio Convention Center. It will be headlined by Ralf Noy Francisco and Crisanto “The Slugger” Pitpitunge, the first Filipino opponent of Baguio-based MMA star Mark “Mugen” Striegl.
Watch my interview with Sangiao here: