Jhanlo Sangiao has signed with ONE Championship. The 18 year old bantamweight becomes the latest in a long line of Team Lakay prospects to put pen to paper on a contract with the promotion.

But expectations for the teenager will be that little bit higher. That is because he is the son of Team Lakay founder Mark Sangiao.

He holds a 3-0 record with all three victories coming at Team Lakay Championship in Baguio. Having grown up watching the likes of Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon the 18 year old is excited to be following in their footsteps,

“I really can’t explain it because even when I was a kid, I truly wanted to be here. I wanted to compete like all my ‘kuyas’ in the gym. So I’m really, really excited.”

Natural born finisher

The signing of Stephen Loman means that all the top Team Lakay fighters are on the ONE Championship roster. But Sangiao says he was surprised to receive an offer from Asia’s biggest MMA promotion,

“I didn’t expect this. Even when my father gave me the contract, I was confused. I was like, ‘What is this?’ Then I saw the ONE logo, and I read it, and I was in disbelief,” he said.

Sangiao says fans should watch out for his ground and pound as well as his submission game,

“In my previous competitions in the amateurs, mostly I finish people with my ground-and-pound and submissions, so I guess that’s what people can expect from me.”

Different breed

While his predecessors were known for their wushu style striking Sangiao says he is a ‘different breed’ which suggests the undefeated bantamweight feels he is more well rounded,

“When they say Team Lakay the first thing that comes to people’s minds is ‘these guys are deadly strikers’ but I believe I’m a different breed. I’m a part of the new generation that needs to build new weapons.”

Representing the Sangiao name as well as the most famous MMA gym in the Philippines brings pressure. Opponents will be well aware of his father’s reputation and the teenager knows he will need to be at ‘his best’,

“There’s definitely pressure. You can’t deny that. You know people will come to me and tell me, ‘I’ve been waiting for your debut,’ so in my mind, that’s pressure because people expect a lot from you and you have to be at your best all the time,” he said.

Well prepared

There is no word yet on when Sangiao will be making his debut but the 18 year old promises he will be ready to seize the opportunity,

“There’s a lot of expectations on my end. Given that it’s the big stage, there’s pressure on me but I just have to be ready. I have to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself.”

His father is proud to see his son managing to do something that he missed out on. Mark Sangiao was already focused on coaching full time and never got a chance to fight for ONE Championship,

“Personally, I am just so proud. I’m just delighted that someone will continue my passion and my dream in the world of martial arts. He just needs to keep getting better and better just so he won’t waste his time with what he’s doing,” Mark said.

Hard work

He also admitted to asking his son one final time whether he was absolutely sure this was the right career for him,

“When I gave him the contract, I asked him one last time if he’s serious about this path. He said yes, so here we are. This is what he always wanted so now he just has to work hard on making sure he succeeds.”

Sangiao will be one of three Team Lakay bantamweights on the ONE Championship roster. He is joined by former champion Belingon and new signing Loman who is also awaiting his debut.