SINGAPORE – Coming off a huge loss in his last fight in ONE Championship that saw him lose in the process the world lightweight champion title, Filipino mixed martial arts star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang has said that was not the end of him as a top-class fighter and vowed to show he has more to give when he makes his much-awaited return to action on May 18.
Part of the card for “ONE: Unstoppable Dreams” happening on Friday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Mr. Folayang goes back to the cage to take on Russian prospect Karun Atlangeriev in a lightweight joust.
It will be the Baguio native’s first plunge into action since losing to now-multiple division ONE champion Martin Nguyen of Australia in their “champion to champion” battle last November.
Mr. Nguyen, the world featherweight champion, added the lightweight gold on his mantle when he knocked out Mr. Folayang in the second round of their clash, connecting on a single counter that immediately sent the latter crashing down and effectively ending Mr. Folayang’s reign as champion.
Coming off such a devastating loss and considering where he is at his stage of his career, many are viewing the 33-year-old Filipino’s upcoming fight against Mr. Atlangeriev as huge, even make-or-break.
But Mr. Folayang (18-6) said he is not focusing much on the “hugeness” of the fight but more of staying true to who he is a fighter and showcase what he is capable of doing.
“I’m not looking at it that way. That I have to win or else everything will be gone. It will only add pressure on me. I just want to show that I’m not yet done, that I still have a lot to give to the game and as a fighter. That’s my primary motivation and not necessarily look at the Atlangeriev fight as make or break,” Mr. Folayang shared to members of the Filipino media here early this week.
“Of course I want to win, and get back to contention. But we are taking it one challenge at a time,” he added.
The Team Lakay stalwart also said that he is ready against ONE-debuting Atlangeriev (11-0) and welcomes the opportunity to fight anew in Singapore, a place he said that has been good to his career.
“I think this is the proper time to make my comeback. Actually, I expressed my readiness to fight again as early as April but ONE decided to move it to this card . I welcome this chance especially here in Singapore. This place has been good to me in my career. Almost all of my fights here had good results including when I won the lightweight title in 2016 against Shinya Aoki,” he said.
He said further that he is not expecting anything easy from Mr. Atlangeriev, which is why they are really preparing hard to achieve their goal.
“Like most Russian fighters, he likes to take the match to the ground. That is his strength. We are really working hard on our ground game so as to make me a better offensive and defensive player,” he said.
“I know he is new in ONE and hungry to prove his worth. I took this fight for a reason as well and I’m keen on seeing it through. I’m expecting this to be a mental battle. I learned from my previous fight and I’ll be careful this time around. But it does not mean I won’t be aggressive,” Mr. Folayang added.
Headlining the event is the women’s atomweight world championship fight between champion Angela Lee of Singapore and Mei Yamaguchi of Japan.
Also on tap is the world featherweight battle between Mr. Nguyen and Christian Lee of Singapore as well as the ONE Super Series muay thai flyweight world championship clash between Sam-A Gaiyanghadao of Thailand and Sergio Wielzen of the Netherlands. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo