The recent departures from Team Lakay have been very well publicized. The biggest names have basically all moved on but there are still some blue chip prospects on the roster.

Among them is Jhanlo Sangiao who competes at ONE Fight Night 9 on Saturday. The undefeated bantamweight is taking on Argentinian grappler Matias Farinelli and there will be a lot of eyes on this fight for several reasons.

Firstly he is the first Team Lakay representative to compete since the mass exodus which saw the likes of Eduard Folayang, Joshua Pacio, Kevin Belingon and Honorio Banario all leave. Secondly there are still questions being asked about whether the camp’s fighters can grapple and his opponent is a BJJ brown belt.

The latter seems to be playing on Sangiao’s mind,

“I know Team Lakay is known for producing some of the best strikers, but slowly, we’re building something else here in this gym. We’re working on our jiu-jitsu, we’re working on our wrestling, and I believe that the next generation of Team Lakay fighters who’ll compete here in ONE will have wrestling and grappling as their bread and butter.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jhanlo Sangiao (@itsjhanlo)

Wushu background

The first fighters to wear the famous Team Lakay colours nearly all came from wuhsu backgrounds and Sangiao says this will always be ‘ingrained’ in the team’s mentality,

“The striking will always be there. That will always be ingrained within Team Lakay (but) I want to continue to prove that we’re more than just strikers, and Farinelli is the perfect opponent for that. We’ve been criticized by fans a lot, saying that we’re only good at striking but totally lacking on the ground. Now I want to prove that it’s different. We’re focusing on wrestling and grappling.”

There has been a lot of speculation as to why so many fighters left Team Lakay. Reading between the lines in this interview with Sangiao, whose father is the team’s head coach and founder, it seems that they were unhappy with the level of grappling that was on offer.

Sangiao says it is a situation which has already been addressed,

“The team is inviting a lot of international martial artists, BJJ black belts, Olympic wrestlers so we’re confident that we can hang with anyone in there from jiu-jitsu, MMA, and striking.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jhanlo Sangiao (@itsjhanlo)

Similar level

According to Sangiao his coach feels that he is at a similar level to Farinelli in the submission game,

“My coach actually told me that I can hang with his grappling. We’ve seen his power, his skills in jiu-jitsu, and he told me that I can defend all of those. I guess come fight night, it’s up to me to execute.”

With so many fighters having left Team Lakay there will be a lot of scrutiny on Sangiao at ONE Fight Night 9. His opponent is based at Tiger Muay Thai and the bout has been in the works for nearly six months.

If Sangiao gets submitted it will lend more weight to the theory that fighters have been leaving Team Lakay to work on their ground game. So their is additional pressure for the 20 year old who will have his father in his corner.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jhanlo Sangiao (@itsjhanlo)

Too strong

Sangiao does not expect Farinelli to make life easy but believes he will be too strong for the Argentinian,

“I think he’s a very tight fighter. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. But for me, I think my explosiveness can counter that. I don’t think he can control me because I’m stronger. I’m confident. I don’t think he can control me.”

But with so much disruption surrounding his team there will be a lot of attention on this fight in the Philippines. That is beyond Sangiao’s control but the young man knows it is imperative that he wins,

“The goal is to win. I don’t care if it happens in the first round, second round. All I have in my mind is to win.”