Martin Nguyen's compassion for friend Eduard Folayang shines through after shock knockout
"Look, honestly, it really hurt. I never ever, ever want to see someone I like, or someone I know go through that." - Martin Nguyen on knockout win over Eduard Folayang (Screenshot courtesy of ONE Championship on Facebook)
One well-timed shot, and it was all over.
Martin Nguyen landed a counter right hook flush on defending ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang's jaw, ending the Baguio-native's title run just one day shy of its one year anniversary.
As the jam-packed Mall of Asia Arena crowd fell into a stunned silence, there was no visual of Nguyen shouting to the crowd or basking in his handiwork, at least not yet.
Instead, Nguyen rushed to the side of his friend to make sure that he was okay.
And it wasn't just like he was standing over Folayang, no.
Nguyen immediately tried to make sure that Folayang's head was elevated, and when he was told by the referees and the ringside doctor to move away, he went to the other side and clung to Folayang's hand.
In the post-fight interview, Nguyen deservedly celebrated making history - as ONE Championship's only two-division world champion - but still had a heartfelt message for the former champ.
"Eduard, I still love you like a brother, I hope you're fine and I hope you come back stronger. I'm still your number one fan."
For Filipino fans, it was a bittersweet visual.
For fight fans, it was what the true embodiment of martial arts should be.
In the weeks leading up to the fight, it was the narrative that was played out over and over again, that Nguyen and Folayang were good friends, but were willing to put their friendship aside for one night to 'honor each other through mixed martial arts.'
True enough, once the fight was over, they were no longer adversaries, and Nguyen's post-fight actions proved that.
"Look, honestly, it really hurt. I never ever, ever want to see someone I like, or someone I know go through that." Nguyen said during the post-fight press conference. "Unfortunately, as I said before the fight, it was putting our friendship aside, it was martial artist versus martial artist, but I just couldn’t help but have that little hard feeling for Eduard when he got knocked out."
Many will remember this night for the violent knockout and how Nguyen made history at the expense of a Filipino hero in Folayang.
Hopefully, the image of Nguyen right by his friend Folayang's side after the stoppage also stands out, as it shows the true meaning of honor and respect among martial artists and professionals.