AFTER steering his team to an impressive performance in ONE FC: Moment of Truth on Friday, Lakay coach Mark Sangiao is now shifting his focus to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
He is, after all, guiding Dave Galera during the UFC Fight Night 34 set January 4 in Singapore. Galera is the first homegrown Filipino to make it to the world’s biggest stage of mixed martial arts.
Galera, the 35-year-old pride of Baguio, recently signed a six-fight contract with the renowned MMA organization and will make his debut against hometown bet Royston Wee in an undercard bantamweight bout.
“Very happy and proud of course kasi siya yung `unang purong Pilipino na lalaban sa UFC,” Sangiao said of Galera, whose name the coach submitted to UFC, along with a few more virtually unknown but tested fighters without existing contracts.
The chosen one, Galera now follows the footsteps of compatriots and UFC regulars Mark Muñoz and Brandon Vera, who both have Filipino blood but were raised in the US.
A grappling specialist in the past, the 5-foot-11 Galera has grown into a well-rounded fighter, having been developing his striking game since training with Lakay four years ago.
“Magiging complete fighter siya -- maging sa standing man o sa ground magiging palaban,” Sangiao said of Galera, undefeated in five fights -- all by either submission or knockout.
Asked if Galera’s signing creates a conflict with the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC), where he is the reigning interim bantamweight champion, Sangiao admitted his fighter has no contract with the premier local MMA outfit.
Nevertheless, the coach wants to have the blessing of the URCC, where the fighter has fought three of his five wins, including the third-round knockout over Red Romero in URCC 23: Unrivaled last April.
“Pinaalam ko naman sa URCC ‘to -- wala nga lang response,” Sangiao said. “Nagpapasalamat ako na binigyan ng URCC si Dave ng chance para ipakita ang kanyang talent sa MMA and hinihingi ko rin ang kanilang blessing sa endeavor na ito ni Dave.”