Filipino lightweight veteran Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of Baguio City, Philippines, has long been one of the premier mixed martial artists to come out of the nation of the three stars and the sun. His accolades have piled on for as many years as he has been in the fight game.
Over the course of his illustrious near decade-long career, the 32-year-old Folayang has had his fair share of high and low points. He’s been through it all, sharing with his legion of fans the unmistakeable pain of defeat, and the undeniably sweet taste of triumph.
Now, after all that has happened in his journey to a shot at a world title in MMA, his quest for supremacy finally comes to a close.
This Friday, 11 November, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Folayang reaches the pinnacle of the mountain he has been climbing for the greater part of the last few years. It will however, come against a legendary Japanese warrior who goes by the name of Shinya Aoki.
Folayang and Aoki headline ONE: DEFENDING HONOR in front of a throng of Singaporean MMA fans who are thirsty for action. The five-round lightweight contest will be for Aoki’s ONE Lightweight World Championship belt.
Before the two clash at the center of the ONE cage, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fine work Folayang has put in over the years. Here are four of Eduard Folayang’s best performances to date.
In perhaps the finest performance of his career, Folayang took on Australian brawler Adrian “The Hunter” Pang in what was expected to be an instant classic. The bigger, stronger Pang was a fearsome finisher who had previously stopped more than half of the opponents he had wins over.
Pang was known for his amazing ability to walk through the line of fire and come out unscathed, unleashing his own barrage of punishing blows on lesser men who simply could not take the heat.
Those who own victories over Pang have either had to survive the onslaught as best as they could, or beat Pang to the punch.
When Folayang was tasked with having to take on such an esteemed opponent, many did not know what to expect. Fans knew Folayang possessed the skills necessary for victory, but did not know if he could handle Pang’s power.
All doubt quickly dissipated as the two clashed from the opening moments of round one. Folayang, behind his world-class wushu stance, repeatedly tagged Pang with a plethora of striking techniques which included spinning back fists, wushu sidekicks, and high-level boxing.
He hurt Pang on numerous occasions, and kept him out of range with a steady stream of offense that never stopped. In times when the fight went to the mat, Folayang’s improved grappling shone through, frustrating Pang to no end.
It was the most thorough performance of Folayang’s career, and it could not have come at a better time. After his impressive unanimous decision victory over Pang, Folayang earned himself a shot at ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki’s belt.
When Eduard Folayang was scheduled to face top Japanese lightweight prospect Tetsuya Yamada, his opponent was riding the high of a seven-fight win streak. At the time, Yamada hadn’t experienced defeat in nearly four years, beating seven straight opponents while stopping four of them.
Folayang, on the other hand, had just come from one of the most heartbreaking setbacks of his career — a first round knockout loss to Russian newcomer Timofey Nastyukhin.
The scouting report on Yamada showed that even though the Japanese stalwart had more knockout wins than submissions, his ground game was most certainly on point. If the bout had happened years prior, Folayang would have been in trouble.
However, ahead of the bout, much of Folayang’s training had been focused on improving his wrestling and grappling. The Filipino star even spent the majority of the past year traveling to the United States, going from gym to gym to learn what he could in order to enhance his grappling skills.
The end result was a highly-improved version of Folayang, who now possessed a firm understanding of the ground arts. And in an impressive performance, Folayang used every bit of his newfound knowledge to good use, utilizing his wrestling to control Yamada on the ground en route to a satisfying decision win.
Folayang showcased tremendous defensive wrestling and mat control, foiling any attempt by Yamada to seek out submissions and effectively neutralizing him as a ground threat.
Kotetsu Boku had a reputation to uphold. The former ONE Lightweight World Champion was a crafty veteran and one of the best strikers in ONE Championship. Boku had triumphed over talented fighters such as Vincent Latoel, Major Overall, and Zorobabel Moreira.
He was known to possess some of the best boxing skills in Asian MMA, and it had been on display in each of his wins. With Boku, there was always a lingering sense that you couldn’t simply go punch for punch with him. All of Boku’s wins in ONE Championship have been by scintillating knockout, and Folayang wasn’t about to take Boku lightly.
So when boxing and wushu met at the center of the cage, fans knew the evening was going to be something special.
Featuring his famous wushu base once again, Folayang blasted Boku with his trademark variety of striking. Spinning back kicks, swinging fists, and painful knees in the clinch worked very well for Folayang for the majority of the bout.
Boku held his own, but simply was not as strong as Folayang. The striking skills were pretty, but the sheer strength of Folayang shone through. It was an instant classic, one that fans will not soon forget. If you want to see an action-packed fight, do yourself a favor and watch a replay of this matchup. You will not regret it.
This performance highlighted the fact that Folayang is not just a highly-technical striker, he is also freakishly strong too.
Vincent Latoel, Dutch-Indonesian MMA veteran, was somewhat of a fitness freak. He did not possess the raw talent and potential as some of his more high-profile peers, but what Latoel always banked on was that he was the hardest worker in the cage.
Although he had finished the majority of his opponents, Latoel has always had to rely on his impressive cardio and ability to outwork foes to get the victory. If you were not able to hang with him until the end of the bout, Latoel would find a way to finish you.
So when Eduard Folayang accepted the challenge to face Latoel, he knew full well that he had to be in the best condition possible.
Training in the high-altitudes of Baguio City, Philippines, Folayang is one of the most well-conditioned athletes in the country, regardless of sport. His hard-working attitude is the stuff of legend. Folayang, as Latoel discovered the hard way, is one of only a handful of fighters that you can definitely say comes out of a bout as fresh as he goes in.
Which is particularly surprising, and undeniably impressive. Folayang’s wushu style is one that demands a boundless reservoir of energy.
The amount of energy expended launching spinning head kicks, moving back and forth and side to side constantly while unleashing lightning-quick and powerful strikes is unfathomable, yet Folayang seems to keep his offensive output constant throughout.
In a very rare instance, Latoel found himself unable to match an opponent with conditioning, and Folayang ended up dominating him from the middle of the bout.