Team Lakay Now has Three ONE World Champions in Their Roster
One night after Team Lakay bagged four awards in ONE Championship’s Global Martial Arts Awards, Kevin Belingon outworked Bibiano Fernandes to become the new undisputed ONE bantamweight world champion. Winning by split decision, he joins Lakay teammates Geje Eustaquio and Joshua Pacio to hold three belts in Asia’s largest mixed martial arts organization. And, two weeks from now, Eduard Folayang has the opportunity to reclaim his belt and make it four out of the 11 available belts strapped around a Lakay’s waist.
ONE Championship was Damn Right in Giving Mark Sangiao Coach of the Year
The main event at ONE: Heart of a Lion was nothing short of a Fight of the Year candidate. Bibiano Fernandes came out to win, bringing the fight to Kevin Belingon with his trademark grappling, working to finish the fight with several submission attempts. On the other hand, as expected Belingon did his best work on the feet, punishing Fernandes with body kicks and combinations that left marks on the former bantamweight king’s face as the decision was read. Easily, Bibiano won Round 3, while Belingon took Round 5. The rest of the rounds, we could argue ’til kingdom come.
Most people’s light bulb memory of Kevin Belingon was his flash knockout of David Aranda at ONE: Moment of Truth. Personally, Kevin Belingon’s loss to Masakatsu Ueda is the memory I always refer to pertaining to ‘The Silencer’. Sure, he lost that bout, but it was an excellent performance as he used all his available tools to keep the Japanese grappling stalwart at bay. My favorite was his strategy of timing a knee whenever Ueda would dive for a takedown.
Team Lakay Proves They’re Still on Top of Their Game
Last year was devastating for Filipino MMA fans as Team Lakay’s leader Eduard ‘Landslide’ Folayang lost his ONE lightweight strap to heavy-handed Martin Nguyen. Coming out of ONE: Global Superheroes, however, Team Lakay showed us that Folayang’s reign was just the tip of the iceberg.
Inheriting the top spot as the face of Team Lakay is Geje ‘Gravity’ Eustaquio, who opened 2018 with a pleasant gift for the Filipino fight nation – the ONE interim flyweight championship.
January 26 was indeed a sweet night for Eustaquio. He snagged the gold after taking the unanimous decision victory over Kairat Akhmetov – a man who, in many people’s opinion, stole one from Eustaquio the last time they met inside the cage in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In that fight, Eustaquio seemingly had Akhmetov beat when the Kazakh was stunned by a series of up kicks. But the fight was inexplicably paused by referee Yuji Shimada, which allowed Akhmetov to recover and escape with a narrow split-decision victory.
During the rematch, Eustaquio made sure to hurt Akhmetov even more by cancelling his date with his long-time rival and current champion, Adriano Moraes.
Eustaquio’s key to victory was his grappling defense. Ironically, ‘Gravity’ needed to avoid getting pulled down by gravity to overcome his opponent. Akhmetov proved once again that he is the superior wrestler as he successfully completed three takedowns. Eustaquio, however, did not allow the Kazakh to inflict damage once the fight shifted to the ground.
After five grueling rounds, Eustquio claimed the right to be called a world champion and be hailed as Team Lakay’s new franchise guy. If we will pay close attention, however, Team Lakay is not defined by franchise guys and breakout stars. They are defined by their culture of winning and excellence.
Team Lakay Goes 5-0 in ONE Championship: Global Rivals
Filipino fight fans were in high spirits as Baguio-based Team Lakay, touted as the country’s most dominant MMA team, completed a successful campaign of five wins against local and international competition at the SM Mall of Asia Arena last night, April 15, for ONE Championship: Global Rivals.
Geje Eustaquio and Honorio Banario got the nod from the judges in three-round wars against Malaysian prospect Gianni Subba and fellow Filipino Vaughn Donayre, respectively; Joshua Pacio and Danny Kingad impress with referee stoppages; and April Osenio scores the lone technical submission of the evening with a deep armbar on Natalie Gonzales Hills.
Danny Kingad opened the night with with an easy ground-and-pound victory against Muhamad Haidar for his ONE Championship debut. The Lakay new breed handily picked up his Malaysian opponent for a slam, moving from the side to full mount before unleashing a barrage of strikes, prompting referee Olivier Coste to stop the bout at the 2:20 mark.
Danny Kingad defeats Muhamad Haidar in ONE Championship Global Rivals
April Osenio took home British-Filipina Natalie Gonzales Hill’s arm in their women’s atomweight bout. Osenio caught Hills’ arm as the latter took her down; the female Lakay hang on even as the Australian-based “Kilapino” was still on her feet. The stubborn attempts at extending Natalie’s arm finally paid off as both warriors ended up on the ground in somewhat of a North-South position, with April hyper-extending her opponent’s arm and Natalie verbally submitting at 3:23 of the very first round.