Several Team Lakay fighters are awaiting their ONE Championship debuts but few will be more eagerly anticipated than that of Jhanlo Sangiao. His father is the founder and head coach at the training camp which has become synonymous with MMA in the Philippines.

Whereas new arrivals like Stephen Loman and Jeremy Pacatiw have already proven themselves on the international stage Sangiao has never fought outside of Baguio. But he is adamant that he has never received any type of special treatment from his father,

“When we start training, it’s like we’re not even relatives at all. It’s like I’m not his son and he’s not my father. He treats me just like one of his students. I don’t even call him ‘papa’ in the gym. I call him ‘coach’.”

Mark Sangiao certainly has pedigree when it comes to producing fighters. He has masterminded the careers of ONE Championship title winners  Joshua PacioGeje EustaquioKevin BelingonHonorio Banario and Eduard Folayang.

His son says he got an earlier start than any of them,

“Even when I was a baby, I think my parents would bring me to the gym as my father would teach. When I was 6 years old, I was already running around, joining my father’s students,” he said.

First taste

However Sangiao was not exactly being groomed for greatness. It was just part of a normal childhood in his household,

“Being around athletes, you want to do what they do. Back then, it was just all fun and games for me. Just running around and sweating, not really taking it seriously,” he recalls.

A few years later he got his first taste of gold and realized that this could become a career,

“But I felt that I truly had to be serious when my father brought me to my first competition. It was a local Muay Thai competition here in Baguio, I think I was 14 back then, and I won gold medals. That’s when I realized that I could do this for a long time.”

Be ready

While the fighters from Team Lakay have similar styles they do vary. Folayang and Eustaquio have always been strikers whereas Belingon and Banario were known for their takedowns, at least at the start of their careers.

It sounds like Sangiao will be following in the footsteps of the latter pair,

“In my previous competitions, mostly I finished people with my ground-and-pound and submissions so I guess that’s what people can expect from me. That’s all I can say for now. It’s better if they see it for themselves.”

ONE Championship’s schedule is set to resume at the end of the month after a brief Covid-19 related hiatus. Sangiao could be making his debut any day now and the 18 year old  says when the call comes he will be ready,

“Sure, there’s pressure, but I just have to be ready. I have to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself.”