ONE chairman likens Eduard Folayang to Manny Pacquiao, credits Pinoy's success and popularity to personality
Filipino combat sports heroes Manny Pacquiao and Eduard Folayang share the cage after Folayang's successful ONE world title defense in Manila back in March. (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Now, more than ever, mixed martial arts in the Philippines is booming, and one of the main reasons for this level of awareness among Filipinos is the recent success of Baguio-based MMA stable Team Lakay, led by reigning ONE Championship lightweight king Eduard 'the Landslide' Folayang.
For years, Folayang was considered as one of, if not the best Pinoy mixed martial artist, and last November, the Baguio native finally reached the pinnacle of his career by capturing the ONE lightweight world championship.
Earlier this year, Folayang defended his championship in what would be the most-watched MMA show in Philippine history.
According to ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, the show's success and Folayang's recent popularity stems from not only his skills inside the cage, but also his personality and the story behind his journey to success.
Sityodtong likened it to the personality and story of another globally popular Filipino sports hero in eight-division boxing world champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao.
"I think it resonated, when you look at Eduard Folayang, his life story is pretty much like Manny Pacquiao, and actually his personality is very much like Manny Pacquiao," Sityodtong told the media. "He's very gentle, humble and kind."
Sityodtong added that outside the cage, you'd never guess that Folayang fought for a living.
"He's a fierce tiger, he’s a fierce lion in the cage but outside of it you’d never know that he’s an athlete, he’s a fighter because he’s so kind and humble and gentle."
His life story is inspirational, his courage and strength, he is the hero we look for." Sityodtong continue.
Folayang's journey from hardship to hero is indeed remarkable. From a life of poverty and tragedy, Folayang fought get to the top of the world.
But more than the inspiring story, Sityodtong stressed on Folayang as a human being, and how he mirrors other Asian celebrities in terms of personality.
"If you look at the history, who are the biggest celebrities in Asia? Any industry, across all walks, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee,Jet Li, Donnie Yen all happened to be martial artists, all happened to be bad-ass in their respective arts but as human beings they’re kind, gentle, humble, strong, courageous, respectful, compassionate."
This is something Asians care about, it’s not an accident that manny pacquiao or yao ming reflect and exemplify those values and i don’t think that would change," Sityodtong continued. "This is something very deep rooted in Asian history, Asian culture, Asian values, this is something that we’re very focused in celebrating."