As a veteran of the Philippine martial arts scene, and a mainstay of ONE Championship since its first event, he has been around the block. For the past decade, Folayang has provided fans with countless performances atop the toughest proving grounds of martial arts competition.
He defied the odds to become World Champion for the first time and won gold medals for his country at the SEA Games, but the performance he put on at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS stands out above them all.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 30, 2018
In November, at the Mall Of Asia Arena in his homeland’s capital of Manila, Folayang took on the young Singaporean lion for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Title. “Landslide” was laser-focused on his quest to recapture the title he had once lost.
“This bout for me carried a lot of significance because it was a chance for me to redeem myself,” Folayang explains.
Folayang first won the lightweight title when he defeated Japanese legend Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki via TKO in 2016. After a successful title defense against Ev “E.T. Ting in early 2017, Folayang took on Australia’s Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen and was sensationally stopped via second-round knockout in front of his countrymen.
After two resounding victories took him back to the top of the division, he got his chance for redemption. Even as a veteran, he felt the pressure to perform and live up to his fans’ expectations again.
“I had lost the belt in the same place a year ago. To erase that painful memory, I knew I had to give the performance of a lifetime and win the lightweight title once again,” he explains.
“Everyone was counting on me to win, so I could definitely feel the pressure.”
Though he was up against a young, hungry athlete who held the record for the most knockouts in ONE history, he performed with supreme confidence.
The result was a spectacular display that Folayang regards as his finest.
“Everything we had worked on in training was in full effect,” he says.
“I was flowing, and our game plan worked perfectly. They say you’re only as good as your last fight, and this one is definitely hard to forget. It’s surely my favorite performance of all time.
“There have been a lot of memorable battles for me in the cage, but this one is fresh, and it really has given me a sense of accomplishment.”
Folayang flowed beautifully for five whole rounds. He kept his younger foe at bay with his signature spinning kicks, and dominated the Singaporean up close with his boxing, knees, and elbow attacks.
Khan, for the most part, was a willing dance partner. The 24-year-old Evolve product had his moments, and Folayang knew never to underestimate him, risk becoming another one of his knockout victims, and undo all of his hard work.
“Amir is young and very talented. I knew I had to be at my best to win,” said Folayang.
“He was always dangerous throughout the contest. His power was every bit as advertised. I was cautious in there, but my team and I had a plan, and we stuck to it. It worked out very well for us.”
When the final bell sounded and the world waited for the three judges to render their verdict, there was no doubt among the throng of fans who came out to support their hero he had done more than enough to win.
After five hard rounds, Folayang was declared the winner by unanimous decision, his hands were raised in triumph, and he had the ONE World Title wrapped around his waist as his compatriots chanted his name from the rafters of the Mall of Asia Arena.
For a few minutes, Folayang stood and just let it all sink in.
“All the hard work paid off. All the hours spent grinding in the gym, the time spent away from my loved ones – it was hard for me, but it was worth it,” Folayang says.
“To bring honor and glory to my country, to inspire those around me, and to provide my family with the life they deserve, these are the things that are important to me.”
Back at the host hotel, Folayang celebrated with his Team Lakay brethren and head coach Mark Sangiao. They recapped everything from the contest – and despite his delight with the outcome, they still found areas where “Landslide” could have done better.
This gathering of minds has become something of a tradition each time the Baguio City-based faction exits the cage after a long night of action, which is one of the reasons why they have continued to improve, and now own four ONE World Titles.
Hear from Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang right after his epic World Championship win over Amir Khan!TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 23, 2018
“For the most part, everyone thought I did well, although there are certainly areas where I could have done better,” Folayang explains.
“Every fight from here on will get tougher and tougher. We know this, and we are prepared to do what it takes to protect the belt.
“I’ve been here before. I know keeping this belt around my waist is harder than winning it. I’ll do the best that I can.”