LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—The Team Lakay gym was humming with activity as fighters went through their paces under the watchful eye of head trainer and school founder coach Mark Sangiao.
A Mixed Martial Arts fighter himself, international Wushu practitioner and trainer, Southeast Asia Games gold medalist and now full-time trainer Sangiao is almost as excited as his fighters preparing for their coming ONE Championship bouts.
After a stellar career as a fighter Sangiao decided to teach and pass on to the next generation everything he has learned. He soon gathered under one roof some of the best, most courageous MMA fighters in the country.
Six Team Lakay fighters will soon to do battle at the ONE Championship stage and they are preparing to win honor and glory for themselves, their teammates and their country as well.
ONE Championship PR Director Loren Mack said their organization seeks out the best MMA fighters in Asia and are pleased to be working with the world class fighters of Team Lakay.
Arguably the best and most popular homegrown Filipino MMA fighter Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Honorio “The Rock” Banario—wearing padded knee, shin and leg guards—trade powerful hits while holding full contact sparring.
Folayang battles for the ONE Lightweight World Championship against defending champion Shinya Aoki in ONE: Defending Honor at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on November 11.
Banario, on the other hand, is one of five Team Lakay fighters who will participate in the ONE: Age of Domination set December 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. The others include Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly, April Osenio and Danny Kingad.
The veteran Banario, a former ONE Featherweight World Champion, battles Rajinder Singh Meena in a lightweight clash. Banario—a Wushu expert, world-class striker and respectable grappler—will be favored over Meena who has tallied eight victories by submission.
Eustaquio is one of the most proficient Wushu practitioners in the country. Another world class striker, Eustaquio has tallied big wins over the course of his career in ONE Championship including a one-punch knockout over Saiful Merican at ONE: Clash of heroes last January 29.
Eustaquio is far from your typical MMA fighter. He holds a Bachelor of Education major in MAPEH (Music, Arts, Phyiscal Education and Health) degree and has also completed his master’s degree on secondary education at the University of Cordilleras.
Eustaquio battles 31-year-old flyweight Toni Tauru of Utti, Finland. Tauru owns a record of 10-4-1 with seven wins coming by submission.
The 32-year-old Kelly is a ferocious striker who will be looking to follow up his electrifying victory over Dutch fighter Vincent Latoel when he battles 31-year-old Sunoto “The Terminator” of Jakarta, Indonesia.
Kelly beat Latoel on the undercard of ONE: Titles and Titans at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia last August 27. The pair were trading haymakers when Kelly hit Latoel with a left-right combination which sent Latoel crashing to the canvas. Kelly dropped to his right knee beside the fallen Latoel and brought down a hammer fist prompting the referee to stop the fight late in round two.
Atomweight Osenio, 22, who was practicing her grappling skills against male Team Lakay teammates, battles 25-year-old Jenny Huang from Taiwan. Osenio will be looking to follow up her spectacular victory in her last bout. The fierce female fighter submitted Ann “Athena” Osman with a guillotine choke.
The fifth Team Lakay fighter is unbeaten flyweight contender Kingad, easily the team’s top young prospect. Kingad is a tremendous striker who needed just a round to pound Malaysia’s Muhammad Haidar. Kingad battles fellow Filipino in veteran Eugene Toquero next.
Tickets for ONE: Age of Domination are available at smtickets.com/events/view/5040.
The last time Team Lakay fought as a group was last April 15, also at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in ONE Championship: Global Rivals. Team Lakay went five-for-five in that promotion.
Eustaquio and Banario tallied hard-earned decisions. Joshua Pacio and Kingad impressed with referee stoppages. Osenio submitted Natalie Gonzales Hills with an armbar.
Team Lakay fighters —training in earnest at their high-altitude base of operations—are hoping for a similar resounding triumph in December.