Eduard Folayang knows what it is like to compete against the very best that the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) has to offer.
The battle-hardened Filipino superstar is a two-time ONE lightweight champion who will look to uphold his reputation on a stacked ONE on Prime Video 5 card, which emanates from the state-of-the-art SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila on the morning of December 3rd.
Folayang has spent the majority of his 15-year professional career at the forefront of a talent-laden division, but this time around, he needs to play the role of a gatekeeper opposite a hungry foe who is out to make a statement at his expense.
“I am grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me. There are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish as a mixed martial artist. No matter how some people may perceive it, every fight at this point is important,” the Team Lakay veteran told Tiebreaker Times.
He is penciled to duke it out with Edson Marques, a Brazilian standout who holds a win-loss record of 10-2 with six victories by way of knockout and one via submission.
Marques made a triumphant pro MMA debut in his home country in 2012, but it wasn’t until three years later that he finally hit the ground running.
“Panico” rattled off victory after victory, unconsciously building an impressive 9-0 undefeated streak.
ONE Championship eventually took notice of Marques’ remarkable run as the native of Goiania, Brazil was signed to an exclusive deal in 2020.
However, Marques was immediately put to the test, causing him to suffer back-to-back losses at the hands of Raimond Magomedaliev and Hiroyuki Tetsuka.
This made Marques consider the idea of moving down to lightweight, a difficult decision that earned him an instant payoff with a blistering unanimous decision win over Kim Kyung Lock last June.
Now as a full-fledged lightweight, Marques took another bold move by accepting an offer to face Folayang on three weeks’ notice.
Despite the stark difference in terms of experience and bout quality between them, Folayang is not treating Marques as just another opponent who will pull him out of his dire situation.
Folayang hasn’t tasted a single victory under MMA rules since January 2020, reeling from a four-fight losing skid.
“Mixed martial arts is a very unpredictable sport. Every opponent shouldn’t be taken lightly as anything can happen inside the cage. There is no reason for me to overlook the capabilities of Edson Marques,” he said.
“You know me, whoever my opponent is, and whatever the circumstances may be, I always prepare for them in their most dangerous form. I just have to do my part and showcase what I’ve been training for.”
Given his status as a prominent figure in the sport both in the Philippines and outside of it, it’s no surprise that Folayang is booked to strut his wares on the promotion’s fifth feature presentation on Amazon Prime Video.
However, when ONE Championship released its full lineup of matches for the aforementioned live event earlier this week, Folayang was noticeably relegated to the preliminary portion of the affair instead of being slated on the main card.
While many see it as a demotion due to his current predicament in spite of his star power, “The Landslide” is taking it in stride and chooses to focus on the task at hand.
“Honestly, I have no problem fighting on the lead card. As you can see, the main card is already full of world title fights. Given how stacked the event is, it’s quite understandable,” Folayang stated. “Whether I’m on the lead card or the main card, I still have the same opponent and the goal remains the same—to get the victory.”
Acknowledging that the trajectory of his career will depend on the outcome of his upcoming encounter with Marques, Folayang concedes to the urgency that he has to be at his absolute best on December 3.
“I know what’s at stake here. That’s why this is such an important fight for me, and that reason alone fuels my desire to put forth a noteworthy performance that can grant me the victory,” he declared.