ONE: Eduard Folayang, Shinya Aoki among lightweight contenders looking to enter the title picture at Reign of Kings in Manila
Santino Honasan on Jul 26, 2018 12:02 PM
WHO GOT NEXT? Eduard Folayang, Aziz Pahrudinov, Shinya Aoki, and Shannon Wiratchai all look to take a step towards title contender status at ONE: Reign of Kings this Friday.
Before he hits the cage for his ONE Championship Interim Bantamweight World Title bout against Kevin Belingon at ONE: Reign of Kings, Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena, reigning two-division champion Martin Nguyen could be an interested observer in a couple of the undercard bouts.
He is, after all, the reigning ONE Championship Lightweight World Champion, and there are four lightweight contenders fighting to be in the title picture on the card.
In one fight, you’ve got former ONE Championship Lightweight World Champion and Filipino MMA star Eduard ‘The Landslide’ Folayang of Team Lakay looking to make it back-to-back wins as he welcomes another unbeaten Russian to the ONE Championship banner in Aziz Pahrudinov.
In the other, you’ve got a pair of top contenders in former ONE Championship Lightweight World Champion and Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki taking on Thai MMA star Shannon ‘OneShin’ Wiratchai.
“I gotta sit down with Matt Hume, our matchmaker and walk through everything, but I think this Friday will definitely determine where everyone ranks in terms of who’s gonna get the next title shot.” ONE Championship founder and Chairman Chatri Sityodtong said of the current lightweight title picture.
Sityodtong also mentioned former world title contender Ev Ting, who’s won three straight since losing his title bid to then-champion Folayang back in 2017.
“Shannon has a big fight, Shinya has a big fight, Eduard has a big fight, obviously Ev Ting is in the mix as well, so all these guys, there are four, five guys who are deserving of a title shot right now.”
For Folayang, a win over Pahrudinov gives him a second straight win against some tough, up-and-coming competition and definitely brings him a step closer back towards title contention.
For Aoki, the former champion has regained his mojo after a rough patch back in 2016 to 2017. A win over Wiratchai makes it two in a row as well.
For Wiratchai, who’s long lingered around the lightweight title picture, Aoki is a definite step up in competition, and a win over his MMA hero definitely makes him a legitimate contender.
“We want, obviously, to do what’s best for the athletes, as well as what’s best for the fans, and so, it’s gonna be a timing issue, but let’s see what happens on Friday. There are big stakes in the lightweight division this Friday.” Sityodtong continued.
A win by both Folayang and Aoki could also set up a colossal rematch between former champions.
It was Folayang who dethroned then-long time champion Aoki back in November of 2016 to become the new ONE Lightweight king.
Aoki has already said that he would ‘enjoy’ a rematch against the man that took his title away.
Who takes a step forward in the lightweight title race? Find out on Friday night!
ONE Championship: Reign of Kings happens on Friday, July 27 at the Mall of Asia Arena!
Catch the action LIVE starting 8:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!