Eduard Folayang couldn’t have scripted a more perfect way to clinch his first win in nearly four years, delivering a finish that deserves a spot in ONE Championship’s highlight reel of knockouts.
Determined to put an end to his five-fight losing skid, he hammered a devastating left hook that laid Amir Khan flat on his back in the third round of their rematch at ONE Fight Night 14 on Saturday, September 30.
As the crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium erupted with joy, and countless Filipinos tuned in from their TVs and mobile devices to join in the celebration, Folayang had initial doubts about whether he could put forth an impressive performance.
The former ONE lightweight champion revealed to Tiebreaker Times that he grappled with abdominal bloating before he stepped inside the Circle.
This posed a significant challenge for Folayang as it restricted his mobility at the start of the fight, enabling Khan to pester him with razor-sharp jabs.
“My stomach felt a bit bloated before and during the first few minutes of the fight, which hindered my movement. It made it really difficult for me to move, causing me to become a stationary target,” he said.
“I could tell which direction he was going and what he would do next. Throughout the fight, he used his lead hand more.”
But as Khan continued to land his jabs, Folayang acknowledged the need to take action in order to break his opponent’s rhythm and launch a meaningful counterattack.
“When he kept hitting me with his jabs, that’s when I really woke up and I realized that I had to do my part, especially when it went to the third round. I knew it would be difficult if the fight went to the scorecards. More so, the bout was held in his hometown,” he stated.
Heading into the third and final frame, Folayang had to dig deep mentally and summon the determination to succeed.
Once he found that inner drive, “Landslide” turned up the volume of his offense.
“It was necessary in round three, as if I didn’t care about my stomach pain anymore. I focused more on the fact that I had to do something so that the result of the fight wouldn’t go to the judges.” Folayang shared.
It was during this round that Folayang showcased glimpses of his vintage form, torching his Singaporean foe with a wide variety of attacks on the feet.
With each passing moment, he grew increasingly confident in throwing his combinations, ultimately leading him to set up the match-ending blow that had Khan looking up at the rafters of the arena.
“When I threw the left hook, I knew it was going to hit and I knew it would put him down. I noticed that referee Herb Dean was running immediately once I scored the knockdown,” the Lions Nation MMA representative recalled.
Folayang fully believes that he achieved the most satisfying conclusion to his quest for redemption.
“I’m grateful that I was able to win it in the third round. I’d like to think that all my hard work and sacrifices have paid off.”