Issue of September 6, 2020
     
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Sangiao cites likely opponents for elite Team Lakay warriors
by Harley F. Palangchao

POTENTIAL OPPONENTS -- The chair of one of the best mixed martial arts teams in the world, Mark Sangiao (center) named the potential opponents of some of the elite Team Lakay fighters signed under ONE Championship, the biggest MMA promotion in Asia. Most of the possible opponents are reigning world champions. -- ONE photo

Team Lakay chair Mark Sangiao has shared his thoughts on who could be the possible opponents of some of his elite fighters signed with ONE Championship, the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in Asia.

Known as the founder of one of the most prolific martial arts outfits in Asia, Sangiao has produced and guided many great athletes and world champions so he has a pretty good idea of what could be next for some of his most prized pupils.

Sangiao said that former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang is a man on the comeback trail while reigning division champion Christian Lee is the most wanted man in the division. Sangiao likes the odds for Folayang against the young titleholder, should they meet in the circle.

“The lightweight division is one of the deepest in ONE Championship. There are so many great talents, and anybody can beat anybody on any given day. But Folayang is the best of the best. He’s the former champion and he’s so hungry to get that belt back. I’ve never seen him work harder in his career than now,” said Sangiao.

“There are a lot of great matchups to be made at lightweight for Eduard, but the one man he wants most is Christian Lee. Eduard is out for redemption, and he’s training very hard to achieve his goals,” he added.

Another world champion on the hunt for redemption is former ONE bantamweight world champion Kevin Belingon, who is a ferocious beast in the circle.

Reigning bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes, however, remains the only man capable of taming Belingon.

Sangiao believes that as long as the two are in the same division, Belingon will remain a threat to Fernandes’ title reign.

“Kevin and Bibiano have an unfinished business. I just wasn’t convinced the last time they fought. Knowing Kevin, he isn’t easy to submit. There were just some mistakes that we made that cost us the fight. But I know we can correct those mistakes,” Sangiao said.

Belingon is currently ranked one at bantamweight in ONE’s official rankings, so the idea of a fifth showdown between the two isn’t too far-fetched.

Reigning ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio knows being champion means everyone is coming for you. In one of ONE Championship’s richest weight classes in terms of talent, Pacio has established himself as a legitimate and dominant champion.

But there are two men who Sangiao believes Pacio should have a rematch with – former strawweight titleholders Yosuke Saruta and Yoshitaka Naito.

Saruta and Naito are actually scheduled to face each other this September in Tokyo’s “Road to ONE: 3rd Tokyo Fight Night” event organized by Abema TV in partnership with ONE. Saruta has expressed his intention of facing Pacio if he can get past Naito. 

When Danny Kingad lost to reigning ONE flyweight world champion Adriano Moraes in 2017, it set the Igorot fighter off on a path of learning. 

Sangiao believes Kingad has learned more in that loss than he did in any of his wins. As a result, the Filipino star is developing at an exponential rate and Sangiao is simply amazed at what he sees.

“Danny has improved so much in just the span of three years. He’s worked so hard in every facet of his game. There’s no stopping this young man from achieving his goals,” Sangiao said.

Moraes is expected to defend his title next against ONE flyweight grand Prix world champion and 12-time former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. 

Sangiao is confident Kingad would destroy Moraes now, whether or not the Brazilian remains champion after the Johnson bout.

 
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