MANILA, Philippines—The COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed the way society lived and one of its biggest effects was felt in the realm of sports, especially in mixed martial arts.

MMA, being a contact sport, was changed from a largely group-based training to nearly an individual workout with individual athletes training at home either by themselves or with a trainer that lived with them in the same household.

That’s what happened to Team Lakay in Baguio with strict lockdown protocols being implemented in the Philippines.

Head coach Mark Sangiao said that the early stages of the lockdown did drastically change the way they trained but with the protocols easing, they’ve slowly gotten back to their gym albeit in a limited capacity.

“Now it’s okay compared to what we did before wherein the boys were training individually at home,” said Sangiao in Filipino through a Zoom conversation with Inquirer Thursday. “But now we’re back in the gym but we still have to follow protocols.”

“Some guys had trainers with them at home but some didn’t.”

Team Lakay’s return to their facility couldn’t have come to an opportune time as former lightweight champion Eduard Folayang and two more fighters from the stable are set to fight in ONE: Inside the Matrix in Singapore on October 30.

Sangiao said they’ve broken down their team into groups on who can enter the gym at a time.

“The Elite and Class A groups train separately so are the other classes to prevent the gym being too crowded,” said Sangiao.

Baguio has generally eased its community quarantine and that meant the Lakay fighters are once again allowed to do cardio at Baguio Athletic Bowl and Benguet Sports Complex.

Folayang, who will be taking on Australia’s Antonio Caruso in Singapore, said training in the early stages of the lockdown shook up their usual routine, including their hikes to the Lourdes Grotto.

Nevertheless, Team Lakay has to make do with what the quarantine protocols allowed.

“The city has slowly normalized now but unlike before when it was really strict but at least the people know what they have to do,” said Folayang. “We have to utilize every space we got.”

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