Two months ago, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang experienced the toughest loss of his professional career.
After an exciting first round, Nguyen catapulted his signature overhand right at a spinning Folayang. The punch connected right on the Team Lakay veteran’s chin, ultimately knocking him out and costing him his world title.
Now, after a much-needed break, the Filipino hero is getting back into elite shape, and is eyeing a return to the lightweight throne.
“I am more motivated than ever,” the 34-year-old states. “I am definitely looking forward to what 2018 is going to bring. I am laser-focused, and I am confident I can get the world title back.
For the first time since his defeat, Folayang breaks his silence. He talks in-depth about his November battle, what he has learned, and what is fueling his return.
ONE Championship: Back in November, you lost the ONE Lightweight World Championship to Martin Nguyen. What went wrong for you in that match?
Eduard Folayang: I was not focused at all on the match-up, and my strategy was severely lacking. I was not able to stick to the game plan me and my team had come up with, and as a result, I got caught. I had overlooked where Martin would be able to capitalize. It was my mistake, but it is what it is. We cannot live in the past, but it is important that we learn the lessons. I know where I went wrong, and I am working extremely hard to make sure that does not happen again. It is a tough lesson to learn, but one that ultimately makes me a better martial artist.
ONE: Has it been difficult recovering from the loss?
EF: The loss to Martin Nguyen was one of the toughest in my life, especially one that happened in front of my hometown crowd in the Philippines. I cannot help but feel that I let the fans down. But I try not to live in the past, instead, I am looking deep within me for answers, because I know deep inside I still have a lot left in the tank, and I have what it takes to get back on the right track and hopefully work my way back up to the title.
It is martial arts, and this is a sport. As an athlete, I understand there are seasons that come into my life. You win some, and you lose some. It is part of being an athlete. Despite the losses, however, I remain as motivated and as determined as ever. One loss will not stop me from reaching for the stars and chasing my dreams. I am working harder than ever to get back to championship form. A different “Landslide” is ready to emerge from the rubble.
ONE: What did you learn about yourself from that performance?
EF: There will always be room for improvement. When you become a world champion, you feel like you have reached the peak of your career, but that is just not the case. There is always room for constant, daily improvement. Every aspect of your game can be enhanced — whether it is tightening up your defense, shortening your punches, or improving the speed and power of your kicks, it is all improved through the daily grind. Even as world champion, I knew I had to put in the work, because there will always be those hungry sharks waiting for their opportunity.
ONE: What was the vibe like at Team Lakay following your loss?
EF: They were definitely heartbroken, especially for me. Everybody showed their support, and it was an amazing feeling. I love this team, and we would not be where we are at without each other’s support. Even with my defeat, Team Lakay soldiers on. My teammates have snatched victories at the highest level of the sport, and each of our triumphs is shared with one another. When one wins, we all win. This is the beauty of martial arts and brotherhood.
ONE: You have also received a lot of support from the fans. How much does it mean to you to have that fan support, and to continuously inspire people?
EF: I really appreciate those people, everyone who still believes in me, and who still encourage me to work hard and pursue the title when they see me on the street. It makes me feel like I have done well with my career, and that people want to see me succeed. My faith in God, my family, and my friends are all behind me 100 percent. The Filipino people are at my side. With this overwhelming support, I have gained the confidence to rise again. As a martial artist, I vow to showcase the improvements in my overall skill set. Everyone will soon be witness to a newer, stronger Eduard Folayang.
ONE: What continues to be your source of motivation?
EF: 100 percent, it is my family. I live for them, my wife and my daughter. It is a humbling experience to come from being a husband, and now also a father. Before, when it was just me, I was just competing for myself. But now, I compete for them, to give them a better life and to be a better provider. With the grace of God, I have been able to reach the pinnacle of this sport. I know what it takes to reach the top, and I understand all the work that goes into it. With the motivation I receive from my family, nothing can stop me.
ONE: Is there anything left for you to prove though?
EF: It has never been about proving anything to anyone for me. It has always just been about improving as a martial artist. I learned my lessons, and now it is time again to fix all the things I mismanaged. One of the things I take great pride in as a martial artist is owning up to my own faults and shortcomings. I know what happened and where I lacked in training, and now I have been able to identify those with the help of my team. Now it is about moving forward and applying the lessons I have learned to my training.
ONE: So what are your goals for 2018?
EF: Of course, I am aiming to get another shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship. Becoming world champion was an amazing achievement for me, and having that belt strapped around my waist inspired many people to be the best they can be, and to work hard. More than just being world champion, I want to continue to be an inspiration to others. If this is by giving my all each and every time I step into the cage, then that is how it’s going to be. I will gladly share my talents with the world.