MANILA, Philippines -- The coach of Team Lakay is confident that their fighters can recover in 2021 after suffering a string of losses in the past 12 months.
Mark Sangiao, the head coach of Team Lakay and a pioneer of Filipino mixed martial arts, acknowledged that 2020 has been a rough year for his fighters and for the country as a whole because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The year has been tough, good, and terrible at the same time. It's been a mix of all things. On the positive side, we were able to spend more time with family and bond. Nature got to heal itself, and I'm sure we've all noticed how beautiful nature has flourished," said Sangiao.
"On the negative side, of course our economy took a huge hit. A lot of people lost their jobs. At the same time, we're happy that ONE Championship is back and we're able to work," he added.
While he is happy that ONE Championship is again holding events, the results of their past few fights have not gone in favor of Team Lakay stars.
Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, and rising star Lito Adiwang all fell in their respective matchups.
But Team Lakay has always subscribed to the philosophy that "we either win or we learn," and Sangiao is confident that his fighters learned plenty in 2020 -- both inside and outside the cage.
"Next year, it's all about going back to work and getting back to the win column," he said. "This game is hard, but I have complete trust that we can get back to our winning ways."
"I can't guarantee the result of next year," he added. "But I can promise you we will try our best always. Every athlete wants to win, even our opponents, but there will always be two sides. We'll try our best to get back on the winning side and stay there."
Outside of their forays in the ONE Circle, Sangiao takes pride in Team Lakay's efforts to help their countrymen during the pandemic and in the wake of natural calamities that lashed the Philippines this year.
Team Lakay spearheaded a series of donation drives to assist those who were affected by both the pandemic and calamities surrounding Baguio City.
"I think our biggest accomplishment this year has been to help our Filipino people suffering through this pandemic in our own little way. Team Lakay has been able to give back to our people, and I think that's really important," he said.