Eyes on the Prize: Folayang is focused on defending his throne

Folayang superfight

As he steps inside the cage for his next title defense, ONE lightweight champ Eduard Folayang is out to hold the division’s fort.

It has been almost a year since Eduard Folayang (18-5 MMA, 8-4 ONE) shocked the Asian MMA scene by upsetting Shinya Aoki to win the lightweight belt in Singapore. Now gearing up for his second title defense, “The Landslide” looks to show everyone that his reign is for the long haul.

He will face featherweight champ Martin Nguyen (9-1 MMA, 6-1 ONE) in a virtual superfight this November in Manila. And the Baguio native wants to show his challenger that his division is an entirely different field.

“Siguro ang gusto ko ituro sa kanya, it’s my kingdom in the lightweight division. It will be a good lesson for him to try my division,” Folayang told the press during a media scrum earlier this week in Makati City.

“As a champion, I want my division to be respected. And gagawin ko yung best ko para ma-defend yung lightweight belt na nakataya dito.”

Nguyen, meanwhile, is coming of his title-clinching win where he knocked out then-undefeated champion Marat Gafurov. In his next fight with Folayang, “The Situ-Asian” has the chance to become the first fighter to hold two belts (simultaneously, no less) in the promotion. Folayang knows that and is confident that it won’t happen at his expense. He believes that, while Nguyen took this fight for with much to gain, it doesn’t mean the odds will fall in Nguyen’s favor.

Like Folayang’s previous title challenger Ev Ting, Nguyen is also a well-rounded fighter coming up from a lighter weight class to vie for the lightweight belt. For Folayang, the difference between his two challengers lies in their speed–something he’s prepared for.

“Ev Ting is a natural lightweight and Martin is a natural featherweight, so I expect that he’ll be faster and he’ll be quicker than Ev Ting,” said Folayang. “The difference is that I prepared for the speed. I need to perfectly create a gameplan for me to counter his attacks.”

With the nation’s expectations once again on his shoulders, Folayang vows to do everything to secure his reign and remind everyone of what he has accomplished almost exactly one year ago.

“On November 11th [2016], yun yung time na nakuha ko yung lightweight belt. On November 10 [2017], yun yung time na ipapakita ko ulit kung bakit ko nakuha yung lightweight belt. So yes of course, it’s added motivation for me.”

Mike Miguel

If there’s anything MMA related going down in the Philippines, Mike would know about it. With a knack for photography and social media, Mike never misses a beat.
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