Showing a lot of similarities in each other’s games, the clash between Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez will boil down to the mental game.
And that’s where Folayang will get his advantage, according to former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio.
The biggest names in the lightweight division on both ends of the world will collide at the stacked ONE: DAWN OF HEROES which is scheduled to take place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on 2 August.
For Eustaquio, there’s no doubt who’s coming in with the mental edge.
"He is enjoying things now. He really wants to get his title back, so he’s really determined," said Eustaquio. "We all know him. He is still the Landslide that we used to know. He has a tough mind."
Folayang, touted as the face of Philippine mixed martial arts, lost his ONE Lightweight World Title to rival Shinya "Tobikan Judan" Aoki in the main event of ONE: A NEW ERA last March.
But throughout his career, "Landslide" has proven time and again that he can overcome adversity.
It was on full display when he regained the ONE Lightweight World Title again by dominating Amir Khan at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS last November 2018. It came a year after he lost the crown in devastating fashion to Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
In typical Folayang fashion, Eustaquio sees his teammate mustering all the lessons from the previous setbacks that "Landslide" experienced. He is convinced that Folayang will find ways to break out of his previous outing, and it would play a vital factor on his road to redemption.
"I think his mental toughness is the key. Eduard was in the deepest moment of his career and we saw how he reclaimed his title. I doubt Eddie will break his mind," he said.
"I think Eduard is due for a win because I’ve seen him prepare for this competition. Both of them are hungry for redemption but I believe Eduard has a tougher mind."
Alvarez, on the other hand, is coming off a devastating loss himself.
He suffered a huge blow in his ONE Championship debut taking a technical knockout loss against Timofey Nastyukhin on the undercard of ONE: A NEW ERA last March.
Though his debut in The Home Of Martial Arts left a lot to be desired, Alvarez remains the most decorated athlete that Folayang will be facing, given Alvarez' credentials as a multiple-time World Champion out West.
But for Eustaquio, Folayang's will, coupled with the support of the home crowd, will be more than enough.
"The people of the mountains will go down and watch. His countrymen will watch him and support him, that’s a bit of pressure on his shoulders but I think he will convert it into motivation," Eustaquio told.
"At the end of the day, Eduard will prove that he is still the face of Philippine Martial arts."