By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
HAVING lost two of the four ONE Championship world titles in its hands in a span of just six days, Team Lakay said it is going back to the drawing board and find ways to arrest the unfavorable trend.
On Friday at “ONE: Hero’s Ascent” at the Mall of Asia Arena, Baguio-based Team Lakay saw the ONE world flyweight title slip from its hands after stalwart Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio lost to Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes of Brazil by unanimous decision in their title match.
The lost was in follow-up to teammate Joshua Pacio’s defeat on Jan. 19 that had him losing the world strawweight gold to Japanese Yosuke Saruta by a narrow split decision.
The back-to-back defeat has left team head Mark Sangiao saddened and concerned but at the same time challenged to straighten their ship moving forward.
“Of course I’m very sad with the loss. It is back to the drawing board for us. We are going to look at the video and see what is still lacking,” said Mr. Sangiao, whose team still has the lightweight and bantamweight titles care of Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, respectively.
The amiable coach said he felt Mr. Eustaquio won the fight against Mr. Moraes, underscoring that his ward did more and performed well even amid adversity, including surviving a very dangerous leg lock from the Brazilian.
But Mr. Sangiao said they are respecting the decision of the judges and promised to come back stronger.
“I think Geje won but we are respecting the decision and the judges. We will bounce back from this stronger. We will do our best and train harder, work on our conditioning. That’s how we do it. We work as team. We are open to talking and discussing things,” said Mr. Sangiao.
For Mr. Eustaquio, the defeat was a hard pill to swallow but was quick to say that it was not something he has not experienced and dealt with before.
“Sorry, Pilipinas. I didn’t make it tonight. In my mind I thought I was winning the fight but it’s part of it (sport). Life has its ups and downs. Tonight was not my night. It was Adriano’s night. But the road does not end there. I’ve been here before so I’ll continue. I have to take it positively,” said Mr. Eustaquio.
“We are people of the mountains, And there are no mountains we cannot conquer,” added the former undisputed ONE world flyweight champion, who now sports an 11-7 record and must now go through the ONE Grand Prix if he is to make another go at the division title.
Also ending on the raw end at Hero’s Ascent was Filipino lightweight fighter Honorio “The Rock” Banario, also of Team Lakay, who was defeated by American Lowen Tynanes by way of technical knockout in the first round.
The loss effectively ended Mr. Banario’s run in the lightweight grand prix and left him having to wait some time to get another shot at the title.
KINGAD TO THE RESCUE
But all was not lost for Team Lakay on Friday night as flyweight Danny Kingad was a convincing winner over Japanese Tatsumitsu Wada by unanimous decision.
The win earned for Mr. Kingad (9-1) a spot in the flyweight grand prix, where the best in the division will pit their skills against one another.
Against Mr. Wada, Mr. Kingad had a well-rounded performance for three full rounds. He got the better of the standup exchanges as well as on the mat en route to getting the nod of all three judges.
Now in the grand prix, Mr. Kingad said he will train hard for it and will his way back to title contention.
“For the tournament I will prepare hard for it. That’s my no. 1 priority in my career. I will go home and prepare. And whoever I will face, I will be ready for them,” Mr. Kingad said.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo