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Mixed Martial Arts

Eduard Folayang fighting for entire ONE Lightweight division


Almost exactly one year ago, Eduard Folayang (18-5) shocked the Asian mixed martial arts scene by slaying the beast that is Shinya Aoki to cop the ONE Lightweight World Championship.

Just over six months ago, Folayang was able to prove that the win was no fluke, outlasting elite lightweight Ev Ting in his first title defense.

And a lot has changed for the 32-year-old since then, who admitted that the once-lovable underdog has become a predator in the global MMA scene.

“It is an added motivation kasi those were the memories na I went there na underdog,” recalled Folayang last Tuesday during the final face-off for ONE Championship: Legends of the World.

“Alam mo yung halos ninety percent ng mga tao, yung mga taong sanay na dito sa MMA were not expecting me to win.”

All thoughout his 10-year journey to the top, the proud son of Baguio City has become an inspiration to fighters across the world. He has been on both ends of spectacular finishes, experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Still, he continued to push eventually going up on top of the mountain.

“Maraming nagbago. As a world champion, yung kuwento ng buhay ko, maraming na-inspire. Nakakapag-bigay ng kaunting motivation for them not to give up and just follow their dreams,” asserted the standout from the famed Team Lakay gym.

And one of those inspired by Folayang is his opponent on Friday night, Martin Nguyen (9-1).

Three months after stunning Marat Gafurov to cop the ONE Featherweight World Championship, the Australian-born Vietnamese quickly jumped on the opportunity to go up a weight class, looking to become the promotion’s first-ever two-division champion.

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For Folayang, who is constantly fueled by the desire to make his countrymen proud, he is no longer just representing his country for this fight. He cannot absorb defeat from a featherweight — an outsider by all accounts — as he will be fighting for every fighter he has beaten and has beaten him come fight night.

“It has always been a joy to represent my country in front of my hometown. Yun nga, may kuwento pa siya kasi champion vs champion. It will give a lot of motivation for me kasi papasukin yung division mo eh,” shared Folayang.

“As much as possible, you’re not only defending your own name kundi yung buong division kasi ikaw yung champion doon.

“It’s a lot of motivation to me, to my part, to my training camp during the fight,” he said.

For sure, the entire lightweight division of ONE Championship will be rooting for their champion come Legends of the World.

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