Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is not prepared to be anybody’s stepping stone, and he still has his eyes on the top athletes in ONE Championship.
The former ONE Lightweight World Champion may be in the midst of a skid, but after a long and successful mixed martial arts career, he wants to continue evolving and learning so he can get back on the winning track.
“I’m not done shooting for my goals. Other people may see it differently, but as for me, it’s far from over. I’m just taking everything in to fuel me and motivate me to have a better outing in my next performance,” the 37-year-old says.
“I’m on a tough losing streak, but I don’t think it should be the basis for me being a gatekeeper now, considering that we’ve won World Titles before where I’ve had to go through the same adversity and rise up from it.”
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The Team Lakay superstar has been up against the leading talents in his division. In most cases, the competitive battles showed that just a few improvements could swing the judges in his favor.
However, when he faced longtime rival Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki at “ONE on TNT IV” in April, Folayang fell to the grappling wizard’s submission acumen. Instead of seeing this as a fatal flaw, “Landslide” views it as more impetus to learn so that he can get back on an upward trajectory.
“It will continue to motivate me to work on the area that [Aoki] has been working on his whole life,” he offers.
“Obviously, I want to keep on improving in the areas where I’ve struggled in the past like the ground game and takedowns. If I can overcome that, I can show that I can still keep on improving.”
“Landslide” was also training for a completely different opponent until Aoki stepped in as a late replacement, which threw off his preparation.
With a full camp in the bag for Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama already, the Filipino would like to see how his skills match up against the Korean-Japanese legend.
“If I was given the chance to face him, of course, I’d want to test him. I haven’t faced him before and I want to see how I fare against him,” Folayang says.
“Maybe we’ll cross paths, and it would be an honor to finally face him. If that happens, I know I’ll be the sexier man after that match.”
Still, Folayang’s goals are mostly oriented toward climbing back up the rankings to try and recapture the gold. The lightweight division is not short on talent, and he knows it won’t be an easy ascent, but that’s what keeps him grinding.
When “Landslide” sees a former young prodigy in Christian “The Warrior” Lee with the belt around his waist, he’s both inspired and excited because the Singaporean-American has shown how much progress can be made in a short amount of time.
No longer a rising star, Lee is the bona fide lightweight king, and he has added to his skill set with every outing. As one of the few remaining athletes from ONE’s early days, Folayang wants to prove that the old guard can still test the new generation — but also test himself.
“[I still want to face] the champion. I still want to test myself against him in the future. I know that I am not in the position to call him out now, but still, my eyes are on him,” he says.
“I’ve seen how much Christian Lee has improved and grown through the years. I’m really impressed with how easily he transitioned from featherweight to lightweight, and from the tough opposition that he’s faced, he showed what he can truly do.”