For Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao, there’s no amount of words that could justify his pride seeing his 18-year-old son take his act to where the big boys are and sign with ONE Championship, Asia’s biggest MMA promotion, this early in his career.
Seemed destined to follow his father’s footsteps, Jhanlo Mark Sangiao is set test his mettle inside the cage against the big guns, not only in Asia but around the world as ONE have increased its talent pool in recent years.
“We’ve been preparing Jhanlo for this moment for many years and now, the wait is over. We are seeing Jhanlo join the roster of ONE Championship’s athletes,” he said.
If plans come to realization of him campaigning as a bantamweight, he should have his hands full as a vast amount of opportunities to learn and participate in big name fights are at store with the talents like reigning champion Bibiano Fernandes and John Lineker ruling the division.
Barring the brotherly bond share by Team Lakay mainstays, he even has his own stable mates to content with as Kevin Belingon, Stephen Loman and Jeremy Pacatiw are also the big names in the division.
It truly is a realization of a dream for the younger Sangiao, who grew up watching his father tear it up with some of the toughest fighters in the country.
As dangerous as the sport of mixed martial arts is, there’s really nothing that could compare to having one’s arms raised at the end of the match. Understanding that indescribable high is one of the multitude of reasons why coach Mark never hindered Jhanlo from treading the same path.
“I never forced him to do MMA and I never told him not to. I left the decision up to him, to do what he wants and to navigate what he is really passionate about. And he found MMA, which made me more than proud,” said the elder Sangiao.
Of course, one can’t blame coach Mark for being a little bit more detailed when he’s at the corner of Jhanlo. After all, he couldn’t help his fatherly instincts from inevitably kicking in whenever he sees his son fight.
“When our fighters fight, I see them as professional athletes and I am their coach. That is our relationship and this applies to everyone,” he said. “But the only thing with Jhanlo is I feel more edgy. I guess that’s the father feeling kicking in, but that’s it.”
That’s not to say that coach Mark has no trust on his son’s abilities as he actually believes that the years of preparation has readied Jhanlo for this leap of faith. And that includes dealing with the immense pressure that he has on his back as he carries their proud surname Sangiao.
“I have no worries. I believe we got him armed physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for this moment. We did the groundwork and let him not forget to always stay focused and to always carry humility whenever he enters that ONE Circle,” he said, with Jhanlo also seeking to have the same dent in ONE Championship as that of his fellow Team Lakay warriors.
Such preparation will definitely go a long, long way for the younger Sangiao as he accumulates the fights and face-offs of his career. While sherdog.com reported only one professional fight under his belt, a first round TKO by strikes win over Danilo Dangalan in 2018, tapology.com added two more, both rear-naked choke wins against Cris John Delica and Hansel Bilog in 2019. All three fights were under the Team Lakay Championship events held in Benguet.
For now, though, coach Mark is just one proud father.
“I’m extremely thrilled and feeling ecstatic,” he said. “As a father and as a coach, either way it just feels great. I’m super thankful that ONE opened this opportunity to him and we all in Team Lakay have high hopes for him.”
By Armando M. Bolislis