Bitter losses have turned Eduard Folayang into a World Champion
"He made a lot of sacrifices, went through hardship, blood, and sweat, I saw his career grow. I saw his ups and downs. I knew Eduard would get the belt because I saw how he trains." - Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao on ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang
By Jason Furness
All sports come with peaks and valleys. Such is the intensity and commitment needed at the top level, mixed martial arts gives the highest of highs and lowest of lows. At ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY on Friday Night, 21 April, Eduard 'Landslide' Folayang sits at the top of the world as ONE Lightweight World Champion.
He will defend his prestigious title against Malaysia's Ev Ting at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, and a successful defense and victory in front of thousands of adoring fans would be one of the greatest moments any fighter could have.
People see this and think that is what the world of combat is all about, but as any fighter or coach will tell you, it is not the successes that define and shape you. Rather, it is the failures. Folayang's trainer at Team Lakay, Mark Sangiao, has been with him through the good times and the bad, but he insists he would not be reaping the current rewards without having experienced the bitter taste of defeat.
"There was a time that we almost gave up," Sangiao reveals. "But of course, being athletes helps us to be tough, and not to surrender. We realized we needed to work on our weaknesses, and see what was lacking. We had to work on them until it became normal."
Now that “Landslide” takes up the pages of newspapers and websites with championship gold over his shoulder, people sometimes forget we are looking at somebody that once had three defeats in four fights under the ONE Championship banner. He has suffered knockouts and decisions losses, and he has questioned himself after every one.
In answering the questions, Folayang has found insights which have made him better as an athlete, and as a man. Facing up to shortcomings is not easy, but the growth it allows us is vital. With an underdog win over Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR in November, the 33-year-old showed that if you pay attention to your weaknesses, they no longer have to haunt you.
"He made a lot of sacrifices, went through hardship, blood, and sweat," his proud coach says. "I saw his career grow. I saw his ups and downs. I knew Eduard would get the belt because I saw how he trains."
Becoming world champion vindicated every loss. It made every session of refining and improving worth it. For fighter and coach, the bumps in the road are not easy, but they teach valuable lessons.
As Folayang heads into title defense number one this Friday Night, in front of his fellow countrymen at the Mall Of Asia Arena, Sangiao expects the world to see the best version of “Landslide” yet. The Team Lakay coach also expects his star pupil to get the victory and the crowd to erupt when he is announced as the winner.
“He is well prepared. He is very ready," Sangiao offers. "After the referee raises the hand of Eduard [Folayang], expect a very loud stadium."
This article was first published in the ONE CHAMPIONSHIP Website. Photos courtesy of ONE Championship.
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