Local combat sports fans in the country now have a valid reason to tune into ONE Championship’s premier offering on the morning of December 3 as the man widely regarded as the “Face of Philippine Mixed Martial Arts” will see action as part of the talent-laden fight card.
Tiebreaker Times has learned from a credible source that Eduard Folayang will return to the sport that catapulted him to superstardom as a prizefighter on the undercard of ONE on Prime Video 5, which is set to take place at the 20,000-capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
Folayang (22-12) is slated to square off against Brazil’s Edson Marquez (10-2) in a three-round lightweight encounter.
According to the same insider, the two-time ONE lightweight titleholder was originally penciled to take on UFC veteran and Japanese MMA icon Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama. However, the latter opted to turn down the fight offer.
The promotion found a willing cage counterpart in the form of Marquez, who is 1-2 under the ONE Championship banner.
The 34-year-old Brazilian lost his first two assignments, absorbing knockout losses at the hands of Raimond Magomedaliev and Hiroyuki Tetsuka at welterweight.
Marquez got hold of his first win in the organization this past June when he made his successful lightweight debut opposite Kim Kyung Lock, outlasting the South Korean in a three-round war of attrition to salvage a unanimous decision victory.
Now, “Panico” garners an opportunity of a lifetime to put the stacked lightweight division on notice as he faces a high-profile opponent in the form of Folayang.
On the other hand, Folayang seeks to arrest his four-fight losing skid in MMA that began with a split decision defeat to Pieter Buist in January 2020.
The beloved Baguio City native then yielded in a series of pivotal matches versus the likes of Antonio Caruso, Shinya Aoki, and Zhang Lipeng.
Folayang, 38, somehow earned some form of reprieve when he figured in a legend-versus-legend Muay Thai clash against Australian kickboxing savant John Wayne Parr last March and walked away with the crystal-clear unanimous decision.
Aside from Folayang, ONE on Prime Video 5 will also have Filipina heroine Denice Zamboanga. She is reportedly booked to duke it out with Chinese atomweight Lin Heqin.
Meanwhile, Folayang’s stablemates at Team Lakay will banner the equally-anticipated ONE 164 on the evening of December 3.
The aforementioned live event is headlined by Joshua Pacio, defending his ONE strawweight championship against American challenger Jarred Brooks.
At the same time, Pacio’s veteran teammate and former ONE flyweight titlist Geje Eustaquio is booked to go head-to-head with China’s Hu Yong on the undercard along with other Team Lakay comrades Jeremy Pacatiw and Jenelyn Olsim.
Pacatiw battles Myanmar’s Tial Thang in a bantamweight joust, while Olsim tests the mettle of Chinese heroine Meng Bo at strawweight.
Moreover, ex-heavyweight kingpin Brandon Vera makes his return by going up against the heavy-handed Amir Aliakbari of Iran.