MANILA, Philippines–Unfair or just, the expectations are high for Jhanlo Sangiao.
There’s also immense pressure being the son of Mark Sangiao, founder and headmaster of the famed Team Lakay stable.
Fortunately for 19-year-old Jhanlo, he has learned to embrace all of that weeks away into his professional debut at ONE Championship.
“I have mixed emotions,” Jhanlo said in Filipino during Team Lakay’s media availability on Wednesday. “I feel nervous but I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was a kid when I was watching our [Team Lakay] seniors. It’s really been a dream of mine so I’m also very excited.”
“My coach is also my father so a lot of people are expecting me to do this or that. For me, I’m just going to show my talents,” he added. “Of course, there is pressure because you’re fighting in one of the biggest promotions.”
Jhanlo, who has an impressive amateur career, takes the stage against Paul Lumihi of Indonesia on December 17 in ONE: Winter Warriors II.
He is part of the new age of Team Lakay warriors, who take pride in being well-rounded fighters.
“As part of the new breed, we will do our best to show what we’ve been working hard for,” he said. “We’re building our skills not just to be known as strikers. The old generation is known for their striking but we’re sharpening our skills like our wrestling and jiujitsu.”
Jhanlo is hoping to do just that against Lumihi, loser of four fights in a row but still not to be taken lightly.
“He’s also a warrior and he’s a champion in Indonesia so we can’t afford to underestimate him. Anything can happen in MMA,” said Jhanlo, who attributes his warrior spirit to his father and Igorot heritage.
There was much hype surrounding Jhanlo’s pro debut and as far as meeting the expectations go, the elder Sangiao doesn’t seem to be worried at all.
“They should expect to see that the one who is following in my footsteps is better than me. I know Jhanlo is going to put on a good show,” said the 42-year-old Sangiao, who has produced several MMA world champions at Team Lakay.