The real drama behind reality show ONE Warrior Series PH 2
The contenders face off in the "bultong" challenge. Screengrab from

The real drama behind reality show ONE Warrior Series PH—from the eyes of the coaches

It’s not only about who gets to take down who, says Team Lakay coach Geje Eustaquio, it’s about an athlete taking on a dream
RHIA GRANA | Sep 22 2022

It’s absolute reality. “Hindi fake blood, sweat and tears. Lahat totoo,” says Team Lakay’s Joshua “The Passion” Pacio. The guy is describing the reality competition “Globe Presents ONE Warrior Series: Philippines,” which premiered last Sunday.

“You’ll see real drama. You will see a warrior cry,” adds fellow Team Lakay Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio.

For several weeks, Pacio and Eustaquio, together with their coach and Team Lakay founder Mark Sanguiao, guided and trained 16 fighters vying for a 100,000 USD contract and a spot on ONE Championship’s global roster. 

Team Passion
Coach Joshua leads Team Passion. Screengrab from

The competitors are not newbies. They are local champions, previous national team representatives, and international medal winners scouted from across the country. They came together at the Team Lakay HQ in La Trinidad, Benguet to undergo rigorous training programs to test their discipline and fortitude. 

Contrary to what some people may think, the show is “not about fighting or destroying one another,” says 33-year-old Eustaquio, but about an athlete’s journey—what they go through to reach their dreams and the lessons and skills they learn along the way.

Even Team Lakay wards Pacio and Eustaquio also had their own realizations taking on the very challenging coaching tasks. Each coach got to pick eight members to be part of their respective teams. As the competition progressed, they selected two athletes to spar in the “Circle Elimination,” to determine who stays and who goes home. Only one will emerge as the winner, which will be announced on November 27.

Coach Geje
Coach Geje leads Team Gravity. Screengrab from

“Napakahirap pala [maging coach],” Joshua, who has a record of 20-3-0, shares at the show’s media conference. “Nakikita ko palagi si Coach Mark, pinagpapawisan, ninenerbyos. Na-feel ko din yun [dito sa ONE Warrior Series].” Coaching is not only about teaching the athletes the necessary skills, he says, but really investing time and resources on the athletes.

The hardest part is saying goodbye, says Eustaquio. “Yun ang pinakamasakit na part. Most especially the first two eliminations. You shared stories with them, you sat with them, and then they have to bid goodbye.”

“Dito ko lang yata na-experience ma-broken hearted,” adds Pacio. “Nung nagka-cut na, naisip ko, ‘Fighter tayo. Hindi tayo iiyak.’ Being strong ang isa sa lessons na natutunan ko sa show na ito.”

Team Lakay
Coaches Mark Sanguiao, Joshua Pacio, and Geje Eustaquio deliberate who will compete in the circle elimination. Screengrab from

But former ONE Flyweight World Champion Eustaquio knows one thing for sure. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” he says. “Sa martial arts, although it’s an individual sport, we cannot become world champions without the right team behind our back to support us and to help us reach that dream. Yun ang biggest lesson na natutunan ko sa show na ito.”

Sanguiao, who’s been coaching MMA fighters since 2003, says being a coach entails lots of patience, and being flexible in dealing with different personalities and managing egos.

The One Warrior Series coaches underscore the importance of having the right attitude in an MMA athlete. “Madali lang mag-create ng champions lalo na if you train them with other champions. Yung skills, sandali mo lang ituturo yun—how to punch, kick, wrestle. But once wala ang right attitude, ang hirap i-develop. Especially sa level na mataas gaya nitong 16 contestants,” says Sanguiao.

One Warrior Series PH press con
From left: One Warrior Series PH host Will Devaughn; ONE Championship Senior Vice President of Production Bo Vongsakoun; Mark Sanguiao; Globe Chief Marketing Officer Pia Gonzalez Colby; Joshua Pacio; Geje Eustaquio; and Anima’s Head of Creative Development Kren Yap

“When a kid comes to your gym, he's really interested and willing to devote his time and effort, he’s willing to learn. Don’t let go of that kid because that kid could be the next world champion,” says Eustaquio. “Pero kung pagpasok pa lang maangas na. Pagpasok pa lang ayaw na maturuan, maybe he's in the wrong place, or maybe the process [of turning him to become a champion] will take longer.”

Pacio likewise stresses the importance of hard work and discipline. “Kami, we also came from nothing. Alam namin na mahirap. Kung may gusto kang abutin, pagtrabahuhan mo,” he says, echoing Sanguiao.

The founder of Team Lakay says he hopes the series will serve as an inspiration to the next generation of martial artists, and will impart the core values of One Championship which are integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion.

[If you missed the first episode of the 12-part reality television series, you can still watch it on demand via and the ONE Super App any time. You can also catch the replays on ONE Championship Philippines’ Facebook page every Saturday at 5 a.m. EST. New episode will air live on GTV,, and the ONE Super App every Sunday at 9:35 p.m.]