Shinya Aoki does not want to see fellow 37-year-old Eduard Folayang hang up his gloves just yet.
After going 2-1 in their five-year-long rivalry during ONE on TNT IV, Aoki shared his sentiments. He declared that Folayang still has what it takes to compete inside the Circle.
“I still want Eduard to keep on fighting.”
Aoki has dominated these last two bouts of their trilogy.
After suffering a historic TKO loss to the Filipino back on ONE: Defending Honor in 2016, Aoki was able to get the win and the belt back during A New Era three years later. And he did so by putting Folayang to sleep in the first round.
Entering the trilogy bout, Aoki admitted that he had doubts since Folayang had the motivation to snap out of his funk.
“I still felt fear going into this fight. Even if it’s not Eduard, whenever I fight anyone, I always feel fear ’cause you never know what’s gonna happen,” said one of the greatest lightweights to ever compete in mixed martial arts.
“I thought it was going to be a harder, more tough fight against Eduard, but my ground control went well and my elbows dropped in. And I think that’s the point that favored me.”
Aoki had full control of the bout.
After securing a takedown and a full mount on Folayang, the Japanese grappling whiz easily maneuvered around the Team Lakay standout. That eventually led to the armbar and a tap out.
The bout lasted just four minutes and 20 seconds.
Despite the loss, Folayang shared that he wanted to turn the trilogy into a saga. And Aoki is all for it.
“I said [to him], ‘Let’s fight again a couple of years later.‘”