Legendary coach Mark Sangiao never expected his son Jhanlo Mark to follow in his footsteps and take up the sport of mixed martial arts.
But such might really be what fate intended for someone like Jhanlo Mark, who wasn’t just born but also raised with Igorot champions as he was exposed from a young age to top-caliber talents inside the Team Lakay Central Gym in Benguet.
And as the 19-year-old makes his debut at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II on 17 December in Singapore, coach Mark couldn’t help but feel emotional as he juggles his role of being a caring father and a stern coach to his son.
“This will be the first time that I’m going to coach my son,” he said in Team Lakay’s recent media availability.
The elder Sangiao acknowledges the big differences heading into Jhanlo Mark’s promotional debut, where he will face Indonesian striker Paul “The Great King” Lumihi in a bantamweight showdown.
Although he has fulfilled the role of a fatherly figure to his fighters, especially to the younger ones led by reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, flyweight contender Danny “The King” Kingad, as well as rising stars Stephen “The Sniper” Loman, Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang, and Jenelyn Olsim, his situation with Jhanlo is really a unique one of its own.
“Although I consider our athletes as like our own children, it’s really different when it’s your own blood,” he said.
But like the professionals that they are, coach Mark insists that he won’t treat Jhanlo Mark with kid gloves all the more as he expects nothing less from his own flesh.
“If it’s just up to me, I will treat him the same as our other athletes. But we don’t know what will happen and like I said, that will be the first time that I will experience that. So I think we could only wait for fight night before we can see how different I could really be when I’m just barking orders for him as a coach on the side,” he stated.
What’s working for the Sangiaos, though, is Jhanlo Mark adapting quickly to the situation, all the more with the pressures of having his first match in ONE Championship.
“He has to understand how to handle pressure despite this being his first time fighting here. But as far as I can see, he’s really ready to fight,” said coach Mark of his son.
And it’s no wonder why the decorated coach wasted little time handing down his own moniker of “The Machine” to Jhanlo Mark as he begins to make a name for himself in ONE Championship.
“Now that he’s old enough, he could already have the name of ‘The Machine’,” coach Mark proudly said.
“That name was given to me when I was still an athlete because when I was starting, I didn’t stop until there was a clear winner. So to me, the fans can only expect that the fruit is better than the tree.”