After nearly three decades as a professional fighter, Australian Muay Thai pioneer John Wayne Parr will slide his storied hands into a pair of gloves one last time.
If victorious, the 45-year-old striker will lift his professional Muay Thai wins record into the triple digits – something only a handful of Westerners have ever accomplished.
For that reason alone, “The Gunslinger” is certain of a memorable performance at ONE’s historic 10th-anniversary spectacle.
“If I was a betting man,” the cheerful Aussie says, “I’d put one dollar on myself – a whole dollar.
“I’m looking for a knockout. I want to finish my career with a highlight-reel finish. And if not, I just want to get the win. I have 99 wins. I just need one more win to crack 100.
“I’ll be really excited to get that monkey off my back and finally reach my potential and retire satisfied, knowing that I’ve given everything in my career.”
Will Folayang’s Wushu Skill Set Present A Tough Final Threat?
In an intriguing twist, Parr will square off with famed Wushu Champion Eduard Folayang, who also claimed ONE’s lightweight MMA belt on multiple occasions.
While they will meet under Muay Thai rules at ONE X, “The Gunslinger” is anticipating a unique matchup in the Circle.
“This is ONE World Champion versus Muay Thai World Champion, so it doesn’t get any bigger.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to share the Circle with Eduard Folayang. It excites me to finish my career on a high against a legitimate champion. It makes me motivated to wake up in the morning and train hard.
Mr. Folayang is a legend, a superstar in the Philippines. And what he brings to the table is not your classic Muay Thai striking style. I’m expecting him to spin maybe once or twice.”
That unpredictability is what makes Folayang such a dangerous opponent, even for someone as seasoned as Parr.
With that in mind, the Aussie doesn’t plan to attack overzealously. He wants to put on one last hurrah for the crowd – but he will also need to pick his shots precisely against the Filipino icon.
“I have to get my timing right so I don’t walk into anything silly. Not to be too cautious, but I have to be very wary of where I’m at the whole time – range, distancing,” Parr says.
“When I attack, I have to make sure that I attack with purpose. Get in, get out. Don’t stay in the pocket too long in case I get caught with something crazy.”
Crazy is something fans can expect from Folayang, who’s known for his spinning attacks.
But with the bout being contested under Parr’s favored rule set, he expects to negate that threat and control the pace from start to finish.
“If I can keep it to a pure Muay Thai game, I’ll be very hard to beat,” the Boonchu Gym representative says.
“So the advantage of this fight is that he’s coming into my world instead of me getting into his. I’m going to pick my shots and get the win.”
‘It’s Going To Be Very Emotional’
“The Gunslinger” has been through it all in combat sports, from defeating the legendary Orono Por Muang Ubon to winning 10 Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Titles.
However, his run toward ONE Super Series gold ended last year when Dutch superstar Nieky “The Natural” Holzken knocked him out in the second round. The tough defeat taught Parr that although men are beatable, Father Time is not.
Now, just months away from his 46th birthday, he’s accepted that reaching the pinnacle of the sport one more time is not in the cards. Instead, he’s focused on preparing the next generation of ONE Super Series stars.
Still, that doesn’t mean he can’t experience the thrill of victory one more time – especially at a colossal event like ONE X.
“When you win, and you get the crowd cheering your name, you get the adrenaline rush and the goosebumps on your skin, and then you get home, and you’re so excited that you can’t sleep for two or three days because of the high you got from the fight.
“I’m going to make sure that every I is dotted, every T is crossed, and I do everything I can to make sure that I sail off into the sunset riding my unicorn.”
Win or lose, it’s going to be a heartfelt day for the Muay Thai world.
Parr has been a staple of the sport since the 90s, and while his legend will live on, 26 March will be the last time he stands in the center of the Circle and revels in the atmosphere that every fighter dreams of.
“There’s probably going to be a tear down the cheek,” he admits.
“It could be very sad. The bottom lip could be quivering. It’s going to be very emotional.
“I’m just going to try to soak it all up. This is the last time that I’ll get to hear that applause, so I want to make the most of it.”