Belingon, Banario leave Team Lakay after nearly 2 decades

Belingon, Banario leave Team Lakay after nearly 2 decades

MANILA – Two more Filipino mixed martial arts (MMA) stars have left Team Lakay.

In separate statements on Saturday, Kevin Belingon and Honorio Banario said they have parted ways with the stable, which has been their home since its founding in 2006.

They did not divulge if they would be transferring to a new team.

“Even beautiful things have endings, but it does not mean that beautiful beginnings are not coming! I would like to make a public statement that I’m no longer with Team Lakay,” Belingon said. “Leaving the team makes me emotional because it has been my home for the last 16 years. But at the same time, I look forward to what lies ahead. A fresh start.”

Banario followed with a confirmation that “the start of my new chapter in the world of combat sports” will be away from Team Lakay.

Eduard Folayang first left the Mark Sangiao-mentored squad.

According to Belingon, the cutting of ties was amicable.

“I had a farewell talk with Mark Sangiao, and we ended on a good note. Coach, thank you for everything and for understanding my need for growth. With whole sincerity, I wish you all the best in life,” he said.

Sangiao confirmed the peaceful parting of ways.

“On behalf of Team Lakay, I wish you all well in your next step. The decision has been made among us and I’m glad we had that final graceful goodbyes talk,” he said in a separate statement.

Like Folayang and Banario, Belingon said he left Team Lakay to cultivate his skills.

“The path I am about to take is uncertain. But I know in my heart that it will pay off since I will be bringing the pride, the joy, and the training imbibed in me by Team Lakay wherever I go,” Banario said.

Belingon lost his last five MMA fights at ONE Championship, including back-to-back defeats to Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes and shock losses to South Koreans Kwon Won-Il and Kim Jae-Woong last year.

The 35-year-old, however, doused cold water on retirement talks.

“I’m still an active ONE Championship athlete,” he said.

The 33-year-old Banario won his last MMA fight against Shannon Wiratchai in 2020 and is preparing for a comeback.

He shifted to kickboxing last year, bagging a bronze medal in the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games and a gold in the National Kickboxing Championships.

The former ONE featherweight champion looks forward to stepping into the ONE Championship circle again after three years.

“The first ever homegrown Filipino to ever win a world championship in mixed martial arts is raring to get back to action to prove to everyone that I still have a good amount of fight in me,” Banario said. (PNA)

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