Before the Philippines’ Eduard Folayang became the ONE Lightweight World Champion with his epic upset victory over Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki, he had to earn the shot at the title first. The fact that he had to do it against the tough-as-nails Adrian Pang meant he needed to earn every bit of the opportunity offered to him.
In one of the finest performances of his career, Folayang took on Pang in what was expected to be a real barnburner at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD. 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 a juggernaut, many did not know what to expect. Fans knew Folayang possessed the skills necessary for victory, but what they did not know was that 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 even dropped Pang on numerous occasions, and kept him out of range with a steady stream of offense that never stopped coming.
In times when the fight went to the mat, Folayang’s improved grappling shone through, frustrating Pang to no end.
Despite Folayang’s increasing accuracy, Pang seemed not the least bit fazed from all the landed shots. Pang smiled and braved every strike, stalking Folayang across the cage. Although Folayang was awarded the victory, it certainly did not come easily.
It was the most thorough performance of Folayang’s career, earning him the eventual title shot against Aoki. And of course, we all know how that one turned out.