Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao is confident that Jenelyn Olsim’s time will come soon after going toe-to-toe with Indian rising star Ritu Phogat in their grand prix semifinal showdown.

Jenelyn Olsim (right) defends herself from Ritu Phogat’s takedown attempt during their semifinal showdown in ONE: NEXTGEN at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. (ONE Championship)

Sangiao said Olsim’s impressive showing, especially with her refined grappling skills, proved that the Team Lakay stalwart has proven her worth as one of the atomweight contenders in ONE Championship.

“We knew na bago pa si Jenelyn dito sa MMA (mixed martial arts) pero siyempre nasa professional [level] tayo and nasa one of the biggest MMA promotions tayo so expected natin makakalaro natin dito mga top caliber (We knew that Jenelyn is new to MMA. But we’re in the professional level and in one of the biggest MMA promotions so it is expected that we will face top caliber athletes),” said Sangiao in an interview with Fitness & Wellness Sports Zone podcast.

“Pero Jenelyn show[ed] na puwede siya doon sa mga top sa finalist. Kita natin, dami niyang mga attempts though kayang i-defend ni Ritu (But Jenelyn showed that she can be one of the top finalists. We saw those submission attempts, it’s just that Ritu defended it so well),” he added.

READ: Facing Phogat in grand prix a ‘life-changing’ bout for Olsim

Olsim began her ONE career as a strawweight, beating Brazilian veteran Maira Mazar to take the division’s No. 5 seat.

The 24-year-old Igorot warrior then continued her winning ways in the atomweight, taking down yet another season fighter in Bi Nguyen.

Since then, when the grand prix opportunity came up, Olsim opted to shift her focus in the atomweight division, joining the likes of reigning champion Angela Lee, Denice Zamboanga, Ham Seo Hee, Stamp Fairtex, Phogat, and Meng Bo.

“Time ni Ritu ngayon, it’s her time. So next time, ‘di natin alam. Makakabawi or makaka-step up din sa finals si Jenelyn (It’s Ritu’s time for now. Next time, we never know what will happen. Jenelyn can avenger her loss or she can step up in the finals as well),” said the Team Lakay patriarch.

Phogat and Stamp are set to clash in the final showdown of the historic women’s atomweight grand prix in December.

The winner gets a direct title shot against Lee, who was in a pregnancy hiatus last year.

Source: Manila Bulletin (