All eyes are on Jhanlo Sangiao, 17, as he is expected to follow the footsteps of his father Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, 41. A legendary Filipino mixed martial arts pioneer, the latter is the founder of Team Lakay, the world-famous MMA team based in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines.
Jhanlo has all the right ingredients to succeed as another superstar in the making. But Mark has emphasized the importance of hard work and nurturing the skill set if his son is to realize his potential.
“It will still be a long journey for him but the thing now is he loves the learning process,” Mark said of his son. “The honing will come as time goes.”
Mark is just happy to see that Jhanlo is enjoying the training. The Team Lakay founder noted that his son is “progressing but the road is still far and stretched.”
Mark was a successful MMA fighter himself with a professional record of 7 wins and 2 losses before going on to spearhead a golden age at Team Lakay. Under his guidance, the team has produced an impressive wave of world champions, becoming one of the most revered martial arts factions in the industry.
Jhanlo has already made it clear to his father that his desire is to one day be a world champion just like many of his Team Lakay contemporaries. With skills and ambition, the younger Sangiao earned praise from MMA icon and ONE Warrior Series CEO Rich Franklin.
For Franklin, Jhanlo has a big future. ONE Warrior Series may just be the perfect stage for Jhanlo to truly shine if he can earn his shot at the ONE Championship subsidiary under the guidance of his father and Franklin.
With widespread shutdown due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still in full swing, many of the Team Lakay athletes have had to tweak their training. But for Jhanlo, the additional hours at home just means more time spent putting gas in the tank and evolving those skills with his father.
“We have been working on conditioning, stairs running, jogging, calisthenic exercises, pad work and more,” Mark shared. “We both enjoy pad work the most. He is enjoying what he’s doing.”
Team Lakay athletes are known not only for their fighting skills but also for their true martial arts values before, during and after fights. Jhanlo seems to have an astute grasp of both, as well.
“Based on his previous matches, he’s fierce and resolute to win,” Mark said of Jhanlo. “As a person, he’s gentle and respectful.”
When it comes to the roles of being a father and a coach at the same time, Mark has made a clear distinction. He explained, “At home, I am his dad.”
“At the gym and during training, I am his coach,” Mark continued. “That’s how I find the balance. They don’t mix.”
MMA fans inevitably compare Mark and Jhanlo. Describing their similarities and differences, the father said, “At 17, I was shy.”
“He is more confident and more skilled,” Mark said of Jhanlo. “The fact is that he is surrounded with high caliber athletes and he has a real coach. For mentality, he still has to test how strong his mental toughness is and I am looking forward to that.”
With a burgeoning reputation as a talented kickboxer, Jhanlo has shown his versatility in what has been an impressive start to his amateur career. Finishing all three of his contests, the youngster sealed his debut win with strikes before securing the next two victories via submission.
While Team Lakay has had world champions in BRAVE Combat Federation, PXC and URCC, it is their huge success in ONE Championship that has really put the gym on the map. When Mark was asked whether or not he believes Jhanlo can follow the footsteps of the Team Lakay stars, the father said, “Seeing his hard work, his will to train and his passion, the answer is yes.”