The careers of Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki will always be intertwined.
And the two have become more than rivals, becoming friends.
So just like every Filipino fan, Aoki watched Folayang take on Edson Marques on Saturday morning during ONE on Prime Video 5.
“If you’ve been a professional martial arts player for nearly 20 years, there are fighters who feel like family even though they’re not family. I might describe Eduard Folayang that way even if it sounds cliche. He is a person who has taught me a lot in my life.
“I was always watching Folayang’s movements and watched him live. When I watch Folayang’s matches, I could predict that I could not control my emotions, even in my current situation. So at times like this, I only watch alone,” read Aoki’s lengthy post.
“Folayang’s condition and performance looked good. I thought he trained hard and it’s easy to imagine that maintaining this performance at his age and in his career would be no small feat. As I am training the next generation, I see their rise and my decline. Still, I am enjoying the days of pretending not to feel it,” he assessed.
“Against Edson Marques, Folayang had the upper hand in my opinion. But I thought he wasn’t calm. I am not able to make a calm judgment, and I think that the commentary by Mr. Kenji Osawa and Mr. Masaki Takeura, the commentators on TV, is correct. I didn’t expect Folayang to lose by knockout, and I didn’t imagine anything other than an accidental knockout like when Timofey Nashyukhin and Martin Nguyen knocked him out. My emotions were turned upside down and messed up,” he opined.
During the bout, Folayang had the upper hand against Marques.
But in one swoop — or a right hand, in this case, Marques connected on Folayang, who dropped face first to the canvas because of the hit. Though Folayang was able to stand afterward, referee Olivier Coste decided to wave the fight off in favor of Marques.
It was painful for Aoki to see his peer suffer another loss.
“Up until now, Folayang has been exceptionally strong in martial arts, and he even knocked Eddie Alvarez down. So it’s hard to believe that Folayang is in a downswing. It was painful to watch. I feel pain rather than frustration is an appropriate expression. It hurts so much. I think it’s because I feel exhausted and weak. Still, this is a reality and you have to live with it,” expressed Aoki.
“It’s his life so he should decide what to do from now on. He already has enough achievements to decide his own career.”
Aoki himself has been on a downswing, suffering two MMA losses and a submission grappling defeat.
“Words exchanged in the cage right after the match last year was ‘One More.’
“It’s a joke we said to each other, but I’m still able to do my best because I have this “one more” in me. Despite the other options, I told him, “Let’s still do our best.” I will still do my best. The struggle of life continues regardless of whether you play a game or not, so let’s still do our best. We still have work to do together,” recalled Aoki, who likened Folayang to Japanese legend Rikidozan.
And Aoki wants one more dance with Folayang.
But unlike their first three fights that were hosted by Japan and Singapore, Aoki wants to do it in the Philippines.
“We’ve done it twice in Singapore and once in Japan, so I think it’s fair to do it in the Philippines, and above all, his breakthrough was the first one against me, so he might think about it. I think it makes sense even if you look at it as a business. More than anything else, I feel that way as well.”
Next month, Aoki will be dropping by the country and he hopes to break bread with Folayang.
And that might be the time the two would negotiate for a potential bout at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m thinking of going to the Philippines in January because I want to talk to you. Let me eat at the mansion in Baguio that I built with the money I earned from ONE, which I heard rumors about,” he quipped.