Training out of Team Lakay in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, Jhanlo Mark Sangiao, 18, is now a ONE Championship athlete. He is now in the same promotion as some legendary mixed martial artists such as Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, 37, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama, 45, of Osaka, Japan and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, 34, of Parkland, Washington, USA.
Sangiao’s father, Team Lakay founder Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, 42, himself is a legendary MMA fighter. Team Lakay is also home to former ONE Championship champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, 36, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 33, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, 32, and Honorio “The Rock” Banario, 31, and reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 25.
“Isa lang naman ang goal ko, (iyon ay) ang maging world champion at maging successful din tulad ng mga kuya kong world champions (I only have one goal, (which is) to become a world champion and to become successful like my big brothers who are world champions,” Jhanlo shared. “You have to be passionate to reach that but you also have to train hard and have the right character. I want to be known as a champion but more than anything, I dream to be one of the legends, too, like Demetrious.”
Despite losing to ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes, 32, of Brasilia, Brazil, Johnson is still considered one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. The African-American MMA fighter reigned as the flyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship from September 22, 2012 to August 4, 2018.
“Ang swerte ko na may teammates ako na world champions (I am very lucky that I have teammates who are world champions),” Jhanlo said. “Sila din ang motivation ko at sila ang nagpu-push sa akin kasi sila ang partner ko pag nagti-training (They are also my motivation and they are the ones who are pushing me because they are my training partners).”
“Sumasama ako pag may event sa Manila and every time na nanalo sila (I go to Manila with them every time there is an event and every time they win),” the teenager continued. “Nandoon yung fire na gusto ko rin sumali, na gusto ko rin lumaban sa cage. Nandoon ‘yong passion (The fire to also join is there, that I also want to fight in the cage. The passion is there).”
Currently, Jhanlo is an undefeated professional MMA fighter with 3 wins and 0 loss. He declared, “If you ask if I think I can be a champion, I don’t say I think. I know I can.”