At last weekend’s ONE Fight Night 14, Eduard Folayang emerged as the hero that Lions Nation MMA desperately needed.
The 39-year-old Baguio City native faced off against Amir Khan in a rematch that carried the weight of the team’s redemption on his shoulders.
In a nail-biting clash, Folayang emerged victorious, knocking out Khan with a devastating left hook in the third round.
This win marked a turning point in the former ONE lightweight champion’s career, giving him his first taste of victory in nearly four years and putting an end to his five-fight losing skid.
For Folayang, this triumphant moment meant much more than just personal success. It also provided a much-needed boost to Lions Nation MMA.
The stable’s inaugural campaign under the promotion’s banner began on a sour note, with Jenelyn Olsim suffering a loss at the hands of Jihin Radzuan in a 120.8-pound catchweight contest by third-round submission at ONE Friday Fights 35.
Folayang took it upon himself to redeem the image of the group, which he co-founded with longtime teammates Kevin Belingon, Honorio Banario, Joshua Pacio, Edward Kelly, and Jeremy Pacatiw earlier this year.
“There was a lot of pressure before the bout. I felt pressure to succeed, especially given the result of the team’s first fight. I’m thankful that I won since it benefits the entire team,” he told Tiebreaker Times.
“Landslide” fully understands the responsibility that comes along with representing the newly-established camp on the global stage.
“It’s just setting the tone. I’m happy that I was able to set the tone as their Kuya to inspire them to dream and to believe, to have that confidence that they can achieve what I’ve done,” Folayang stated.
With the momentum now firmly on their side, Folayang and Lions Nation MMA are looking ahead to their next assignment.
Pacio is scheduled to lock horns with undefeated Russian strawweight Mansur Malachiev in a pivotal encounter at ONE Fight Night 15, which takes place at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand this Saturday, October 7.
Folayang is confident that his sensational win at ONE Fight Night 14 will rub on Pacio.
“Of course, we want to sustain the momentum. We hope and pray that Joshua will be able to turn in a spectacular performance this coming weekend,” he said.