ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang relishing opportunity to train in US
Santino Honasan on Sep 18, 2018 03:36 PM
Eduard Folayang poses with Diego Sanchez. (Photo courtesy of Eduard Folayang on Instagram)
For the last month or so, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang has been putting in work in one of the most renowned mixed martial arts gyms in the world, the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
There, Folayang has been able to work with the likes of world champion producing mentors like Greg Jackson, Mike Winklejohn, and Brandon Gibson, as well was train with the likes of world-class MMA stars such as Carlos Condit, Holly Holm, Diego Sanchez, Michelle Waterson, and more.
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A proud representative of the Benguet-based Team Lakay stable - which has been regarded as one of the best MMA teams in Asia - Folayang has relished the opportunity of being able to learn and train in one of the most decorated gyms in the world.
The Jackson-Wink MMA Academy of course, has also been home to world champions such as Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, and many others.
"It was a good experience, I learned a lot of things, especially in the areas where we are still growing and learning, like the wrestling and the ground game." Folayang shared with ABS-CBN's Steve Angeles.
"Of course we also sharpened my striking." added Folayang, who's known for his thunderous punches, kicks, and elbows.
"Napaka-ganda, nabu-boost yung confidence, lalo na pag nakikipag-sabayan ka sa training sa mga nakikita mo na mga malalaki yung pangalan sa MMA, and you experience na makipag-laro sa mga nandito, so it’s really a big experience and a big learning lesson for me." he added.
Considered as the face of Philippine MMA, Folayang has been competing in MMA professionally since 2007, getting his start in the Philippine-based promotion URCC. Folayang was also one of the pioneer members of the Singaporean-based Asian MMA juggernaut ONE Championship, which held their first event in 2011, with Folayang as one of the featured stars.
In 2016, five years after debuting for the promotion, Folayang finally captured the ONE Championship Lightweight World title, defeating Japanese MMA legend and long-time champion Shinya Aoki via third-round TKO.
Folayang would defend the title successfully once, before losing to Martin Nguyen just a day shy of a year after winning the championship.
Since then, Folayang has bounced back impressively, picking up two consecutive wins against a pair of tough, unbeaten Russian grapplers.
The 33-year old Folayang is considered as one of the top contenders in the lightweight division, and could be next in line to challenge Nguyen for the title.
While there's no word yet on what's next for the Team Lakay star, Folayang maintains that it's best to be prepared just in case the call for a world title shot comes once again.
"I’m hoping that I can be able to regain what I had lost, so the best thing to do right now is to prepare, fix those areas where I lack, and sharpen those areas where I am strong." Folayang said. "Yun naman yung pinaka-the best na gagawin kasi wala pa naman yung schedule, hindi natin alam kung kailan darating yung schedule, pero ang pinaka-maganda ay handang-handa tayo whenever the title shot is given, hindi tayo malayo sa pag-kamit ng nawala sa atin."
Right now, Folayang is just one of the many willing and deserving contenders in ONE Championship's talent-rich lightweight division.
Names like Aoki, Ev Ting, Timofey Nastyukhin, and Amir Khan are all looking to show that they too are deserving challengers to Nguyen's title.
"There’s a lot, it’s a stacked division in the lightweight division, and yung pinaka-maganda ay nakikita mo kung sino ang umaangat, sino ang nag-iimprove doon sa laban so yung talagang pinaka-magandang gawin talaga ay paghandaan kung sino yung mga magiging kalaban, and then of course you prepare well, kasi anytime they can give you the best."
Folayang returns flies back to Manila on Tuesday.
H/T: Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News