Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao remains hopeful that a Filipino will break into ONE Super Series.
While the country still holds the greatest number of World Champions in mixed martial arts in ONE Championship with six, the Philippines has not been well represented on the promotion’s striking stage.
Sangiao expects that to change as soon as someone from the Philippines dedicates their time to honing only their striking skills.
“I think Filipinos are good at striking and we can actually excel in it. It’s all a matter of someone focusing on it and working hard for it,” Sangiao said.
“I like the chances of Eduard [Folayang]. I think he could have excelled in Super Series. Most of our top-level athletes, I think could also excel if they push for it.”
The 41-year-old believes that having a wushu background could help in the elite all-striking component of The Home Of Martial Arts.
Sangiao should know. He was named one of the coaches for the Philippine contingent in kickboxing in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Together with his wushu and mixed martial arts students Gina “Conviction” Iniong and Jerry “The Bokodian Warrior” Olsim, they brought home gold medals in the biennial regional meet—and while it was an amateur event, Sangiao believes the success can be replicated in ONE Super Series.
“I think wushu is also a good background for our athletes who want to try Super Series. I think it’s a solid striking base,” Sangiao said.
“There are some differences here and there, like in Wushu there are actual takedowns. In Muay Thai there are elbows and knees, so it’s all a matter of incorporating those rules depending on where you’re competing. I think we’re pretty much the same as kickboxing.”
Striking hopes aside, the soft-spoken mentor is making sure his mixed martial arts athletes are prepared when ONE matchmakers reach out.
“Since events are starting to ease in once more, we make sure that our professionals continue to train and stay in shape, just so we’re prepared when ONE Championship comes calling,” Sangiao said.
“I think we’re close to seeing some of our ONE Championship athletes return. It all depends on the organization on who they want to see compete.
“Right now, we’re all okay. No one’s contracted the virus from our end, and I hope that no one gets it in the future.”
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