MARK Sangiao took pride in seeing his ward Eduard Folayang make a complete turnaround from a fighter with an uncertain future to become the ONE lightweight champion raring to make his title defense in front of the home crowd in ONE: Kings of Destiny on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The soft-spoken mentor behind the highly touted Team Lakay has been with the ONE Lightweight champion in the lowest of lows, when inconsistencies plagued Folayang a few years back, all the way to the top when he snagged the title away from Shinya Aoki in Singapore last year.
Sangiao is filled with pride with Folayang’s willpower in overcoming adversity, especially after seeing his ward consider retirement just two years ago after a string of embarrassing losses.
"Normal na darating sa point na yun sa atleta lalo na kung natatalo ka. Pero sa stage na ganun, kailangan naguusap kayo," Sangiao recalled during the pre-fight press conference on Tuesday.
"Yung time na yun, sinasabi ko lagi na bago pa tayo sa MMA pero tingin ko naman na-adopt na na rin yung laro so napakaganda nung naging adjustment," he added.
But it’s not just Folayang who’s experiencing a resurgence, as Sangiao’s Team lakay has also bounced back strong after going 0-5 in one fight card on December 2015.
"As tumatagal sila, tumatanda sila sa laro, gumaganda yung attitude nila. Nababawasan pa yung stress—sa akin nga, ngayon, program na lang. Dati kailangan, ganito-ganyan, daming instructions," Sangiao said.
"Ngayon, mas naiintindihan nila, mas nagiging responsible na sila," he added.
That's why Sangiao, Folayang and the whole Team Lakay are heading into Friday’s event with heads held high, ready to continue their dominance in Asia.
"100 percent ang confidence ko sa kanila," Sangiao proudly said.