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.
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.
Undefeated in his pro-am career, Joshua Pacio proved to be just as successful in his ONE Championship debut as he outclassed fellow Filipino Rabin Catalan in two rounds of wrestling dominance. Though Catalan was able to drive some shots home in the standup, Pacio’s takedowns were the difference maker as Catalan could not recover whenever the Lakay plants him on his back. And at the 3:19 mark of the second salvo, referee Yuji Shimada stopped the contest after Rabin was unsuccessful in defending himself as Pacio rained down strikes from full mount.
In the co-main event of the evening, Gianni Subba’s height and reach advantage was not a factor as Geje “The Gravity” Eustaquio schooled his Malaysian foe with sly overhand rights and low-high combinations en route to a dominant unanimous decision victory. Most impressive was Geje’s ability to dart in and out of his lanky opponent’s range, ripping the body with a hook or kick then changing to left and right hooks to the head. With the win, Eustaquio eyes for another title run in ONE’s flyweight division.
Perhaps the most emotional fight of the night was Honorio Banario’s unanimous decision campaign over Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre. “The Rock” dropped five straight losses after claiming the inaugural ONE featherweight championship against Eric Kelly. The crowd erupted whenever “The Rock” backed his foe with cracking combinations; collective gasps were audible whenever Vaughn connected on Banario’s chin. At the end of five rounds, Banario and every Lakay fan breathed a sigh of relief as “The Rock” had his hands raised inside the ONE cage yet again.
In his social media post following the decision victory, the usually modest Banario was uncharacteristically emotional when he wrote, “My faith has been tested for a long time, but giving up has never been an option for me. To my family, friends, loved ones, and loyal fans, my heartfelt gratitude for boosting my morale when I was down.” In a passing chatter with Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao, he simply said, “We’re just very happy na maganda ang resulta (the results were good). Hopefully, we could continue getting the wins in international MMA competitions.”