Eduard Folayang and Joshua Pacio have both been awarded blue belts in BJJ. They were promoted by Gibran Langbayan along with long term training partners Jeremy Pacatiw and Honorio Banario.
The timing of the promotions is bound to raise some eyebrows. Folayang made his MMA debut in 2007 and went on to capture the ONE Championship lightweight title in 2016 and 2018.
Banario won the ONE Championship featherweight title in 2013 and these two men must have been grappling nearly every day for well over a decade. But it seems they haven’t spent much time working with a gi on until now:
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Back to basics
Folayang, Pacio, Pacatiw and Banario all left Team Lakay in March. No explanation has been given but the former lightweight champion explained that he needed to work on his grappling, which he acknowledged was a weakness.
It seems that he has been willing to go back to basics in order to do it. Despite having nearly two decades of experience as a mixed martial artist Folayang was only a white belt in BJJ until this week.
Earlier this year Team Lakay’s Jhanlo Sangiao was awarded his purple belt in BJJ. He only made his debut in 2018 but has won his last five fights by submission.
People might question how Sangiao could be a higher rank in BJJ than Folayang given the gulf in experience. But the latter has repeatedly proven his grappling prowess inside the ONE Championship cage.
By contrast Folayang hasn’t submitted an opponent since 2010. But MMA is not BJJ, and it seems that the first wave of fighters to emerge from Baguio didn’t spent much time working with a gi on until now.
Given how successful fighters from that region have been the prospect of them evolving even further must be a scary one for their rivals. Baguio is a hotbed of MMA and it seems that BJJ is catching on pretty quickly too.