Martin Nguyen, Eduard Folayang
Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang had a memorable trip to Singapore nearly two years ago when he hoisted an intricately-crafted hardware above his head in celebration after claiming the biggest victory of his professional career.
Folayang’s world title-clinching performance against Shinya Aoki at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR in November 2016 was a win that no one ever expected, but what made it more spectacular was how the beloved Filipino superstar defeated the Japanese mixed martial arts legend with his bare hands.
In the third round, Folayang thwarted the Japanese veteran by driving a hard knee to the head before unleashing a barrage of punches to coerce referee Yuji Shimada to wave it off.
The manner by which Folayang beat a high-profile competitor like Aoki shocked the world because the latter has long been considered as the most dominant lightweight mixed martial artist in the Asian region for the better part of the last decade.
Folayang will be setting foot on Singaporean soil once more as he is set to lock horns with undefeated Russian prospect Kharun Atlangeriev on the undercard of ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAM on May 18.
“Singapore is where I won the title. I was the underdog in that title bout against Shinya Aoki, but I managed to pull off the upset win. It was so memorable. The country will always be dear to my heart,” he said.
Going back to the Singapore Indoor Stadium where he won the ONE Lightweight World Championship belt, Folayang feels elated to strut his wares in Singapore again.
“Singapore is an awesome country. The venue is so awesome. It’s truly world-class. The energy is palpable. I won’t say it’s my home court, but it gives me the motivation and inspiration because it is the place where I became the champion,” he stated.
Now set to return to the ONE Championship cage in Singapore, Folayang is slated to square off with Atlangeriev with the intention of putting himself back in the world title picture.
Six months ago, Folayang suffered an excruciating setback at the hands of ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Nguyen.
After an exciting first round, Nguyen uncorked his signature overhand right at Folayang, who attempted deliver a spinning back-kick.
The punch connected right on the Team Lakay veteran’s chin, ultimately knocking him out in the second round and costing him his world title.
In the aftermath of his unsuccessful second title defense against Nguyen, Folayang admitted that he did not exactly know what to say or how to address the loss.
“It was hard to talk about it for a time,” he bared. “Finding the right words to describe what I was feeling was a challenge, even for myself.”
“I think that is just how it goes for me after a tough loss. Losing is not new to me, but it is also an opportunity for me to take a step back and try to pick up the pieces,” Folayang added.
Aside from finding the right words to express himself, Folayang also took an extended break to understand the errors that he made during the lightweight championship contest.
“I needed the time off to realize where I went wrong – whether that was in my preparations or in the fight itself. I wanted to know where I had miscalculated. I reviewed every angle, and I really took the time to look at my mistakes,” he disclosed.
Folayang stressed that he needed to relax and ease his mind before he could even think about returning to Team Lakay and resume training for another bout.
“I am a firm believer that this game is mental, first and foremost. After you get your mind right, then you can start to work on the physical aspect of it all. It does not matter how strong you are; if you are not in the right frame of mind, you cannot move forward,” he asserted.
After a much-needed vacation, the 34-year-old Baguio City native is eyeing a return to the ONE Championship lightweight throne.
“I am more motivated than ever,” he declared. “I am definitely looking forward to what 2018 is going to bring. I am laser-focused, and I am confident that I can get the world title back.”
In his first assignment since relinquishing his possession of the ONE Lightweight World Championship to Nguyen this past November, Folayang crosses paths with Atlangeriev, an unbeaten combatant with a perfect 11-0 record.
Known by the moniker as “The Predator” due to his intense demeanor inside the cage, Atlangeriev has gone the distance just once in his prizefighting stint as ten of his 11 career wins have come by way of finish.
Atlangeriev seeks to make an impact in his ONE Championship debut by defeating a former world titleholder in Folayang.
“I won’t take any opponent for granted, especially not someone as talented as my opponent on May 18. I still have much to do in the sport of mixed martial arts. I’m going to kick off the next chapter of my career against one of the top prospects in this promotion,” Folayang mentioned.
According to Folayang, he has his mind in the right place as the Team Lakay representative plots to run through the ranks once again in an effort to recapture the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
“You win some, and you lose some. It is part of being an athlete. Despite the losses, I remain as motivated and as determined as ever. One loss will not stop me from reaching for the stars and chasing my dreams. I am working harder than ever to get back to championship form. A different ‘Landslide’ is ready to emerge from the rubble,” he guaranteed.
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