IN PHOTOS: The Year of Lakaydesktop
In 2018, Baguio's Team Lakay proves that it's one of the best mixed martial arts stables in Asia
MANILA, Philippines – In a span of 12 months, Team Lakay has emphatically proven that they are one of the best active MMA stables in Asia, if they are not the best already.
Once the final ONE Championship event concluded this December, Baguio City housed an unprecedented 4 world champions out of the promotion’s 11 total divisions, and each one of them proved why they deserve to be at the top of their game.
Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon
Record: 20-5 (7-win streak)
No fighter had a hotter year than the reigning ONE bantamweight world champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon.
It all started last April 20 at ONE Heroes of Honor when the 31-year-old scored a brutal TKO win at home against Andrew Leone for a shot at the bantamweight title.
While Belingon waited for then-champ Bibiano Fernandes to fully recover from his injuries, he first nabbed the ONE interim bantamweight world championship in an impressive unanimous decision victory over former two-division titlist Martin Nguyen at Reign of Kings last July 27.
The streaking striker finally got his long-awaited shot – now a title unification bout – against Fernandes at ONE Heart of a Lion in Singapore last November 9. There, Belingon narrowly escaped the returning superstar and successfully became ONE’s undisputed bantamweight king.
For his exploits, the promotion awarded him the ONE Warrior of the Year award, besting Myanmar folk hero and two-division world champion Aung La N Sang among other fellow MMA stars.
Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang
Record: 21-6 (3-win streak)
Although he lay low from the attention of the world after losing the ONE lightweight world title to end 2017, Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang crashed back to the main event scene in a huge way this year.
The 36-year-old team leader slowly got back into his groove after a pair of unanimous decision victories over formerly undefeated fighters Kharun Atlangeriev and Aziz Pakhrudinov.
Then just last November 23, Folayang got his first lightweight title shot at ONE Conquest of Champions at the Mall of Asia Arena against Singaporean stud Amir Khan – exactly one year after he lost it at the same venue.
With the recently-vacated belt up for grabs, the steely veteran let loose a landslide of spinning back fists and elbows to stun the dangerous young Khan. Sure enough, Folayang’s masterful five-round performance was enough for him to win back the title he once lost.
His first title defense is now set at ONE New Era in Tokyo on March 31, 2019 as he faces hometown hero Shinya Aoki.
Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio
Record: 11-6 (2-win streak)
Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio only had two fights for the year, but they were the only two he needed to claim 2018 for his own, as well.
After a heartbreaking split decision loss against Kazakh veteran Kairat Akhmetov last September 16, 2017, Eustaquio regrouped and faced his tormentor one more time for the ONE interim flyweight title.
This time, 2018 brought the “Gravity” great fortunes as he figured out Akhmetov en route to a hard-fought unanimous decision victory at ONE Global Superheroes last January 26 for the interim title.
Nearly half a year later last June 23, Eustaquio went on to shock then-champion Adriano Moraes in a tooth-and-nail, title-unifying split decision win at ONE Pinnacle of Power in China.
For 2019, he is now on the receiving end of a rematch clause as he is set to battle Moraes yet again on January 25 at ONE Hero’s Ascent, the first ONE event of the year in the Philippines.
Joshua “The Passion” Pacio
Record: 16-2 (4-win streak)
Last but definitely not the least, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio rounded out Team Lakay’s dominant year by defeating Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE strawweight world championship at ONE Conquest of Heroes in Indonesia last September 22.
Prior to going the distance with the Japanese fighter for the title, Pacio was clearly not fond of tests of endurance as he racked up two consecutive first-round victories over newcomer Ming Qiang Lan last January 26 and the formerly undefeated Pongsiri Mitsatit on July 27.
“The Passion” sent the home crowd at ONE Reign of Kings into a heated frenzy after making the Thai slugger tap out to an improvised inverted kimura submission hold, a move he has now dubbed “The Passion Lock.”
He now welcomes 2019 with a tough challenge from Japanese veteran Yosuke Soruta at ONE Eternal Glory in Indonesia, making him the first Lakay title defender for the New Year.
Certainly after a blockbuster 2018, Team Lakay just set themselves up with the biggest target they’ve ever had on their backs at the turn of the calendar year. However, seeing how they have the penchant for brutal excellence, this is the best thing they could have hoped for. – Rappler.com