May 23, 2024

Mark Sangiao speaks about trust, growth regarding Team Lakay exodus

Mark Sangiao speaks about trust, growth regarding Team Lakay exodus
ONE Championship

It was December 2022 when Joshua Pacio suffered a defeat right in Metro Manila, losing the ONE Strawweight World Championship he acquired four years ago in the process. It was only his fourth loss in his ONE career after picking up eleven victories.

Three months later, he joined Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Honorio Banario in leaving the Team Lakay stable. While founder Mark Sangiao said the separation with his older fighters was amicable, he felt different with his 27-year-old ward.

"In part of Joshua, it’s unfair. Professionally, it’s unfair doon sa party ni Joshua kasi hindi pa [tapos ang contract]," Sangiao told Noli Eala in One PH's Power and Play.

"‘Yun lang naman pero sa akin, what’s the use ‘pag trust wala na?" Sangiao clarified that he spoke to his fighters before they announced their departures to ensure there were no issues.

"Siguro, gusto nilang humiwalay din," he admitted.

While fighters do have a contract with Team Lakay, Sangiao said Folayang and Belingon initially only had an agreement since they were with the camps the longest. The coach told Eala the fighters likely wanted to grow, something he said he was open to do.

"Hindi ko pinipigilan doon sa part na gusto nila matuto. May mga case nga na pumunta si Stephen [Loman] sa US, pumunta si Eduard sa US. Pumupunta sila sa Manila para makipag-grappling sa mga atleta doon," he shared.

"Sa akin, open ako sa sistema na ganun. Gusto naman natin gumaling pa sila lahat. Pero inside the gym, you have to follow my rules."

But the Team Lakay fighters likely felt the sting of losing. Eduard Folayang's recently suffered another loss and updated his ONE record to 12-11. His last wins were back in March 2022 and in 2020.

Honorio Banario is at 9-9 with ONE. His last win was in his latest match, albeit with a split decision.

Kevin Belingon, meanwhile, at 11-10, suffered five straight losses. The last time he celebrated a victory was in 2018.

"Minsan hindi na rin sila pumupunta sa gym, and nagpaalam na rin sila. Wala na akong magawa sa part na ‘yun kundi ‘yung sabihin na lang na respetuhin kung ano ang desisyon nila," Sangiao shared.

But just like any other mixed martial artists, Sangiao said he's absorbing the hits and rolling with the punches.

"We’ve been together for 16 to 20 years. Medyo nakakalungkot din pero we have to admit the fact ‘yung reality na people come and go," he said. "So ‘yun na lang. Sa akin, being kuya or their coach, intindihin ko na lang."

And just like his fighters, maybe it's also time for Sangiao and Team Lakay to grow. He has already started by adding strength and conditioning trainers as well as licensed nutritionists.

Danny Kingad's last win this February via unanimous decision, Sangiao said, was the product of that effort.

"I’ve been doing this for 20 years. Naka-produce tayo ng mga kampeon. Seven international belts ‘yung naipasok natin. I’m the person na willing to learn palagi, non-stop. ‘Yan ‘yung prinsipyo ko naman, gusto ko palaging mag-upgrade at mag-improve ‘yung team," he said.

"We have to produce again ‘yung mga kampeon na papalit sa kanila."