Jhanlo Mark Sangiao, 18, of the Philippines has just signed a ONE Championship contract. The teenage mixed martial artist trains at Team Lakay, which was founded by his father Mark Sangiao, 42, and is based in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines.
“When I was given the contract, I couldn’t believe it,” Jhanlo recalled. ” The dream I’ve had since I was young was already here. I had mixed emotions of nervousness and excitement that I can’t explain it.”
“This is already the big stage,” Jhanlo continued. “This is unlike the amateurs. Yes, there are nerves but that shouldn’t be a reason why I will cower against my opponents.”
“There’s also pressure because I just signed with ONE Championship and many people are already looking forward to seeing me fight,” the Team Lakay fighter added. “They’re asking on social media when my fight is and how strong I am given with my surname but I just continue to train hard to be able to show what my talents are.”
Being the Team Lakay founder’s son does not mean Jhanlo did not have to do the necessary work to become a qualified ONE Championship athlete. Like most MMA fighters, he started as an amateur fighter, trained regularly and discovered his strengths and weaknesses.
“Nung nag-start pa lang ako, ako ‘yong laging nagta-tap (When I was starting, I was the one who always tapped),” Jhanlo recalled. “Ako ‘yong binabaliktad lang (I was the one who was easily handled).”
But no matter how many times Jhanlo got manhandled and tapped on the mat, he always came back stronger. He said, “Eventually, I just built myself up and was able to hold my ground.”
Team Lakay is home to several ONE Championship stars namely Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly, 37, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, 36, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 33, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, 32, Gina “Conviction” Iniong, 32, Honorio “The Rock” Banario, 31, Stephen “The Sniper” Loman, 29, Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang, 28, Danny “The King” Kingad, 25, and Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 25. Jhanlo’s father himself is a legendary MMA fighter.
Currently, Jhanlo is the youngest Team Lakay fighter signed with ONE Championship. He said he seeks to give a new dimension to the famed stable.
“When you see Team Lakay fighters, people always assume that we’re all strikers,” Jhanlo said. “Now, expect that this is the new breed. I’ve trained to build new weapons and new skills not just on the stand-up but also on the ground game.”