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.
Breaking Down Joshua Pacio’s “Passion Lock”
ONE strawweight contender Joshua “The Passion” Pacio made quick work of Pongsiri Mitsatit at ONE:Reign of Kings last July 27, 2018. While it was no surprise that Pacio used his wrestling to impose his will on his opponent, pundits and fans alike were wowed by the manner Joshua finished the fight.
The ending sequence began with Pacio picking his opponent up for an emphatic slam. From there, Pacio worked from side mount to full mount with little resistance from Mitsatit. Punishing his opponent from the top, the Lakay standout took his opponent’s back. Pacio then isolated Mitsatit’s arm, yanked it back and proceeded to crank the Thai’s arm for a Submission of the Year candidate.
ONE color commentator Mitch Chilson was noticeably impressed with Pacio’s patent submission. Asked what it was called, the young Lakay said, “I don’t know…the Passion Lock?” And unlike Mark Striegl’s “Fil-Americana”, commonly known in BJJ as a Floating Americana, Pacio’s submission was truly unique – more along the lines of Phil Davis’ “Mr. Wonderful”.
“Passion Lock” Explained
Jiujiteiros traditionally secure a seat belt position once they transition to back mount. The seat belt position is advantageous because it gives the attacker the option to go for a rear-naked choke or isolate the arm for an arm bar. Pacio secured his hooks from back mount, but went for Mitsatit’s left arm with a two-on-one, using both his arms to pull the Thai’s forearm to the back. From there, Pacio only needed to push Mitsatit’s forearm up to get the submission.
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.