MMA: Team Lakay coach impressed with ONE's set-up to prevent COVID outbreaks

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2021 04:06 PM

Coach Mark Sangiao with Team Lakay. File photo.

MANILA, Philippines -- After repeated trips to Singapore for ONE Championship events, the head coach of Team Lakay has been impressed with how the country and the promotion are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Singapore has hosted live ONE Championship events since October 2020, after the country relaxed its restrictions. On October 30, they allowed a few fans to watch ONE: Inside the Matrix at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which featured the showdown between Team Lakay's Eduard Folayang and Antonio Caruso.

Since then, Team Lakay fighters have flown to Singapore together with head coach Mark Sangiao for ONE Championship events. On Friday, Lito Adiwang will return to the ONE Circle for the first time since November to battle Japan's Namiki Kawahara in a strawweight match.

Sangiao praised how ONE Championship has run its events, noting that the promotion is being very "strategic" with its protocols.

"From the airport going to the hotel, and from the hotel going to training, going to the competition area, and 'yung sa venue mismo, the way they handled the competition -- napaka-strategic," Sangiao said during a media conference call this week from his hotel in Singapore.

ONE Championship chairman Chatri Sityodtong previously stressed that the protocols they put together are "very strong." The 250 fans who are allowed to watch in the arena have to get negative results in antigen tests before they are allowed in. The fans are also required to wear masks, and are socially distanced from one another inside the stadium. 

They have also shown no qualms in calling off fights in case of a positive result. In November, a highly-anticipated bout between Danny Kingad and Kairat Akhmetov was removed from the ONE: Big Bang fight card after a Team Lakay cornerman tested positive for COVID-19.

"The way they're doing it here is great," said Sangiao. "Wala akong masabi. Napakagaling."

It remains to be seen, however, if ONE Championship can pull off a similar set-up in the Philippines. Sityodtong has been adamant that he does not want to hold empty arena events in the country, instead preferring a "spectacular show" when they come back to the Philippines.

"I don't know for now kung pwede rin gawin nila diyan sa atin para matuloy sa Pinas din," Sangiao said for his part.

Still, the Team Lakay coach said he will be in full support if ONE Championship decides to hold a "bubble" in the Philippines -- perhaps even in their hometown of Baguio City.

"Kung sarili ko lang na desisyon, then let's go," Sangiao said of holding a fight card in their base. "Advantage natin 'to, kapag umakyat sila doon."

"Pero that depends sa situation natin ngayon, sa government, and sa decision pa rin ng ONE Championship," he added.

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