Iranian wrestling coach Ali Heydarabadi yesterday expressed confidence Team Lakay mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters have strong chances of beating their opponents as a result of their intensive wrestling training.
“They have trained for five months on grappling and other wrestling techniques,” Heydarabadi said in an interview during the well-attended open workout conducted by ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) at the Resorts World Manila for some of the MMA fighters.
Ten thrilling matches will be presented during ONE FC: Moment of Truth at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena on Dec. 6 starting at 7 p.m., with the Filipino MMA strikers figuring in five challenging bouts.
Heydarabadi, who was a European and military wrestling champion, was hired by Team Lakay after the Filipino fighters’ total shutout in last May’s ONE FC event at the MOA Arena, which many blamed for their lack of wrestling skills.
He said the Team Lakay fighters have improved a lot on their wrestling skills which would neatly complement their wushu background.
“Wushu wrestling is different. In our training, I taught them how to take down and defense takedown and other techniques,” he added.
Heydarabadi said it was a short training period but the fighters have developed a lot. “I believe they are better the last time.”
Among the Team Lakay fighters he trained were Honorio “The Rock” Banario, who will figure in the main event as he tries to regain the ONE FC Featherweight championship from tormentor Japanese Koji Oishi; Kevin Belingon, who will face undefeated Spaniard David Aranda Santacana; and Eduard Folayang, who will battle seasoned Dutch-Indonesian striker Vincent Latoel.
“I will get back my belt. I have trained double time. I have been waiting for this opportunity. Our wrestling coach has taught us new techniques,” Banario himself said in an interview after the open workout. He also stressed that Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao’s victory last Sunday against Mexican-American Brandon Rios has inspired him and the other Team Lakay fighters.
“We are motivated by Pacquiao’s victory. I know his triumph will pull us up and enable us to score wins against our opponents,” said.
Belingon said, “Our training and conditioning is good this time. We learn many wrestling techniques,” he said.
He said he is not in any way intimidated by the perfect record of his opponent. “I don’t care about his record. I will just focus on my game plan.”