A showdown between two of Asia’s top MMA stables is emerging with former ONE featherweight champion Honorio Banario clashing with Singapore’s Amir Khan on September 8 in Shanghai, China.

Banario, eyeing a sixth straight victory, will be representing the Philippines’ famed Team Lakay. Khan, coming off a sensational knockout win, will be the face of Evolve MMA of Singapore.

Under the watch of head coach Mark Sangiao, Benguet-based Team Lakay has grown to become the Philippines’ premier mixed martial arts team.

They produced 4 ONE champions in Banario, former ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang, reigning ONE flyweight champion Geje Eustaquio, and recently crowned ONE interim bantamweight Kevin Belingon. 

Besides world champions, Team Lakay is also home to some of the promotion’s top contenders including Edward Kelly, strawweight star Joshua Pacio, and flyweight contender Danny Kingad. 

But Evolve MMA has been dominating the MMA scene not just in Asia, but in the world as well. 

Regarded by many as the No. 1 MMA gym in Asia, Evolve is home to reigning ONE atomweight Angela Lee, former ONE lightweight champion Shinya Aoki, former ONE welterweight Ben Askren, former ONE strawweight champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirishoke, former ONE strawweight champion Alex Silva, and former ONE light heavyweight champion Roger Gracie.

“It’s going to be a tough challenge,” Banario said. “Evolve MMA has world-class fighters and coaches. They have black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, world champions in Muay Thai. They basically have everything in their gym. This will definitely be a good test for us.”

Besides the lightweight battle between Banario and Khan, another Team Lakay-Evolve MMA pairing will also be featured in Shanghai.

Team Lakay’s Edward Kelly will be locking horns with Christian Lee in the featherweight division.

“Team Lakay is a great team and I have been friendly with them since the start of my career. However, my job is to go in there and take out whoever ONE Championship puts in front of me and this fight will be no different,” said Lee. 

ONE championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said he was impressed by Team Lakay’s dramatic rise in Asian MMA this year.

In fact, he also made a verdict on which is the better MMA stable. 

“I have massive respect for all fight teams, but I believe there is no question that Team Lakay is now the #1 fight team in Asia today.” Sityodtong said in a Facebook post. 

“Despite a very modest budget and limited resources, Mark Sangiao has produced one of the best fight teams in the world.”

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)


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