MMA: Coach Sangiao speaks up on Team Lakay exodus


Posted at Mar 17 2023 07:14 PM

File photo/Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports
File photo/Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA -- Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao spoke up following the shocking four-man exodus from the team last weekend. 

Former world champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, and Honorio “The Rock” Banario left in a four-day span, surprising fans and supporters with their abrupt exit from Team Lakay.

But in his first interview with Bombo Radyo Baguio since the exodus, Sangiao explained that the sudden departures were unavoidable.

“There really was nothing that I could do since they’ve already made up their minds, so I had to respect it. They’re already grown enough to make their own decisions, and I really wish them the best in their futures,” he said in Ilocano. 

“It’s normal that brothers will have disagreements, so how much more about teammates that are also very close friends? We lasted this long together because we always talk things through, but their departure could not have been avoided since they were already decided – especially Eduard [Folayang].” 

Sangiao stressed that his brotherhood with Folayang remains the same, and that they even had a heart-to-heart moment before Folayang left the team for good.

“I see and treat him as a brother whose career is nearing its end, especially with regards to his age,” he said. “That’s what he and I talked about privately, to give him a little bit of a boost in the relaunch of his career.”

However, he admitted that there has been a heavy cloud looming over the stable during the past few weeks. 

Sangiao cited Danny Kingad’s victorious return to the ring as one of the main examples of how the team has stayed focused despite all the external issues that the squad was facing. 

“There is that hint of awkwardness and adjustment, but I’m always willing to do everything to improve the gym – whether it’s adding more trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and even a licensed nutritionist,” he said. 

“Using Danny’s [Kingad] last fight as an example, he performed great, especially with Eko Roni Saputra carrying a seven-fight win streak. That’s the type of effort that a Team Lakay fighter will always show regardless of what happens outside of the cage.”

Despite the departures, Sangiao remains confident with his squad and his abilities to lead the team moving forward. 

“I just have to start again. Team Lakay grew into what it is out of effort and passion despite not having the best resources, so what more now?” he said.

“I have 20 years’ worth of coaching experience under my belt, and I believe I have a lot more to give our athletes.”