HIS reign as ONE Championship world lightweight world champion might have come to an end last Friday but Filipino mixed martial arts star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang asserts that is not the conclusion of his story as a fighter and vowed to come back even better.
Fell in his second title defense to fellow champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen in their “super fight” at “ONE: Legends of the World” at the Mall of Asia Arena by way of a first-round knockout, Mr. Folayang acknowledged he was beaten fair and square and looks forward to going back to the drawing board as he charts his way back.
“I tip my hat off to Martin Nguyen. He did his homework well and came very prepared. Because of this, my hunger for improvement remains unsatiated. This is a big lesson learned. I believe challenges inside and outside the cage always bring out the best in us. I assure you that the journey doesn’t end here,” said Mr. Folayang in statement shared to members of the media in the aftermath of his defeat.
Prior to his defeat to world featherweight champion Mr. Nguyen, who is now a two-division world champion after adding the lightweight belt to his conquest, Mr. Folayang was on a roll, having won four straight, including a third-round technical knockout victory over legend Shinya Aoki that earned him his world title in November last year.
Interestingly though, Mr. Folayang’s last defeat also had the lights turned out on him, with Russian Timofey Nastyukhin KO’ing him (flying knee and soccer kicks) in December 2013 also here in Manila.
Having made to regroup anew, 32-year-old Mr. Folayang, now sporting an 18-6 record, said he is confident that he can make his way back to the top again, saying that he is adopting the verse from Ecclesiastes 9:11 as his battle cry.
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all (Ecclesiastes 9:11),” Mr. Folayang shared in his statement.
In closing, Mr. Folayang said they at Team Lakay will not stop working so as to make the country proud, which has been the motor that keeps them going every time they compete in international events.
“Team Lakay and I will exert our best efforts to wave our Philippine flag more triumphantly in 2018,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Folayang’s Team Lakay teammate Gina “Conviction” Iniong will be back in action in just two weeks’ break to face Japanese Mei Yamaguchi at “ONE: Immortal Pursuit” in Singapore on Nov. 24.
Just fought last Friday like Mr. Folayang, women’s atomweight fighter Ms. Iniong, who beat Indonesia’s Priscilla Hertati Lumbangaol by technical knockout in the second round, will take the place of currently injured champion Angela Lee against Ms. Yamaguchi.
After Ms. Lee was ruled unavailable to go following a freak car accident she was involved in, Ms. Iniong did not waste time making her intention known to step in and take the fight, saying she is ready to go to battle.
ONE: Immortal Pursuit will be headlined by the title fight between welterweight champion Ben “Funky” Askren and Shinya Aoki. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo