Mark Sangiao reaped the harvest of his mentoring efforts when Team Lakay entered 2019 with five reigning mixed martial arts champions. But early this year, the team lost two of its five belts both due to decision, which caused debates in the MMA community.
On January 19, 2019, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 22, defended the ONE Strawweight World Championship title at “ONE: Eternal Glory” at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia. He lost the belt to Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta, 31, of Japan via split decision.
On January 25, 2019, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, 29, defended ONE Flyweight World Championship title at “ONE: Hero’s Ascent” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines. He lost to Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes, 29, of Brazil via unanimous decision in a trilogy fight.
“Of course, I respect ONE Championship a lot,” Sangiao told me when I asked him about the recent controversial results in an exclusive interview. “But of course, with the judges, I don’t know yet. I don’t understand what’s happening.”
“But of course, we have to respect them because that’s their profession,” the Team Lakay coach continued. “Of course, we have to consider also the sacrifices that these fighters are undergoing so we have to be more professional with the judging.”
Now, the three remaining champions of Team Lakay are about to defend their respective titles. On March 15, 2019, Brave Combat Federation Bantamweight Stephen “The Sniper” Loman, 23, will defend his belt in the main event of “Brave 22: Storm of Warriors” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
On March 31, 2019, ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landsilde” Folayang, 35, and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 31, are competing in separate bouts at “ONE: A New Era” at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. It will be the first ONE Championship event to be held in Japan.
On April 12, 2019, Pacio will have his opportunity to redeem the ONE Strawweight World Championship belt. In a rematch, he will challenge Saruta in the co-main event of “ONE: Roots of Honor” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Watch my recent interview with Sangiao here: