‘They’re one of us’: ONE exec defends Team Lakay from online flak

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2019 08:14 PM

After underperforming in Tokyo, Kevin Belingon and Team Lakay bore the brunt of criticism on social media, a reaction ONE founder Chatri Sityodtong thought was unfair. Handout

One can't deny that Team Lakay had a disappointing time in the recent ONE: Century fight card in Tokyo.

Danny Kingad was outpointed by MMA pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson in the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix tournament finals, while Kevin Belingon was forced to tap out by Bibiano Fernandes in their ONE bantamweight title clash. Honorio Banario was later submitted by revered Japanese fighter Shiya Aoki.

Only Lito Adiwang came out victorious among the 4 team Lakay fighters. He broke Senzo Ikeda arm in their 3-round bout.

Critics were quick to pounce on the team's "weaknesses," heaping harsh words on the Benguet-based fighters.

ONE Championship CEO and founder Chatri Sityodtong came to the Lakay fighters' defense in a lengthy Facebook post.

"I would like to take a moment to address the online hate against my brothers and sisters at Team Lakay. First, let me begin by saying that Team Lakay is one of the best fight teams in the world. Full stop. Period. End of story," Chatri said.

The MMA executive added that losses are part of the competition, especially in a promotion where the best fighters meet one another.

"The truth is that it is almost impossible to win world championships consistently when you are competing at the highest levels in the world. There is no margin for error. If it was easy to win world championships against the best in the world, every team would do it," Chatri said.

He said critics seemed to forget how Team Lakay started.

"With no resources, no money, and limited access to world-class knowledge, they managed to build Asia's best fight team from nothing," Chatri said.

"Does Team Lakay have weaknesses? Yes, of course. Every team in the world has weaknesses. However, I would argue that they have closed the gap significantly on their weaknesses, especially relative to the world's other top teams. Does Team Lakay have strengths? Yes, of course. Their striking is truly world-class.

"Will Team Lakay win more world titles in the future? I would bet my life on it. Team Lakay is full of superstar martial artists with a head coach who knows what he is doing. If you ask me, it is only a matter of time before Team Lakay rules the world again.

"Let us not forget that Danny Kingad, Kevin Belingon, Honorio Banario, or anyone else who lost in Tokyo is one of us."

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