ONE Championship: A win away from a second title run, greatness once again within reach for Eduard Folayang
Santino Honasan on Nov 23, 2018 11:15 AM
“Yung pinaka-test ko ulit after losing that belt is this coming November 23, and I’m excited going into that battle again. Sana maging two-time world champion." - Eduard Folayang
Eduard Folayang’s mixed martial arts career can best be described as ‘up-and-down.’
Throughout his eleven year career as a professional MMA fighter, Folayang has reached the highest of highs and has fallen to the lowest of lows, and his current run in ONE Championship is no different.
In 2016, following a run that saw him go 6-3 in the promotion, Folayang reached pinnacle of his career after dethroning Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki to become the ONE Lightweight World Champion.
Another high in the career of the Baguio City native, who many considered to be the face of Philippine MMA at that point.
Then, a year later, as the trend in his career goes, Folayang was knocked off from his spot at the top and was sent crashing down courtesy of a right hand from Martin Nguyen.
Just like that, Folayang was again in a valley.
The 35-year old is no stranger to adversity. He was able to rise back up in 2016, and now, he’s done just that again.
A little over a year after losing the belt to Nguyen in Manila, Folayang gets a shot at history, but more importantly, he gets a shot at redemption.
At ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila, Folayang has the opportunity to become a two-time world champion when he meets Singapore’s Amir Khan for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Champion.
If Folayang pull it off, he becomes the first two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion in the promotion’s history.
If Folayang pulls it off, he recaptures the crown in the very same arena that he lost it in, just twelve months prior.
“Siyempre masayang-masaya ako, kasi it took me one year ulit para maka-balik sa title picture, and pinag-hirapan naman natin,” Folayang told ABS-CBN Sports. “We faced two undefeated Russians and naging dominant naman yung performance natin, and for sure, napaka-exciting yung magiging laban na ito, especially since tinalo ni Amir Khan yung teammate natin na si Honorio Banario, so it will be a good fight for both of us.”
Folayang knows all too well how his career has gone, and the former Wushu standout says that in order to be able to keep moving forward, one must not keep himself in the past.
Whether wins or losses, “Landslide” says that he does not dwell on them too much.
“Hindi tayo nagde-dwell sa past, kasi kung magde-dwell ako sa mga past victories tsaka mga defeat, parang hindi ako magmo-move on.”
“ Kaya dun natin na-aappreciate ang martial arts, it’s really a journey kung saan sasabihin natin na tapos na tayo or na-achieve na natin yung highest na standard kasi in some ways, we will win some and some ways we will lose, pero yung napaka-ganda doon ay kapag natatalo tayo, mayroon at mayroon tayong chance para ayusin yung areas na nagkamali tayo at magkaroon ng chance para manalo ulit and as much as possible maibalik natin yung nawala sa atin,” he continued.
As far as second chances go, Folayang has had his fair share. Now, he gets another chance at being the top lightweight in the promotion, and he believes it’s all because he never quit, even after all the adversity he has faced in his career.
“Yun yung pinaka-masaya dito sa pagiging isang martial artist, we are given a second chance as long as we are breathing and as long as we never give up.”
Folayang’s road back to the championship picture took him a little over 365 days.
In that period, Folayang proved that he was still a top-tier lightweight after defeating a pair of undefeated Russian grapplers in Kharun Atlangeriev and Aziz Pahrudinov.
When Martin Nguyen vacated the belt back in September, immediately, Folayang was in the front of the line in terms of contenders.
In that 12-month period, Folayang admits that it wasn’t the easiest. Having to deal with such a loss and then having to work your way back isn’t a walk in the park. But the former champion believes that it was necessary for him to go through that in order to evolve even more.
“Yung journey, every day talaga, kailangan mo din mag-struggle, mag-struggle na kung saan you will always aim to improve, you will always aim to learn kung ano yung strengths and weaknesses ng kalaban mo until you will go on that day na parang mag-eexam ka ulit and you will see na if you have improved after a year or not,” he shared.
378 days removed from his title loss, Folayang gets to test himself again, and if he passes, he becomes the top dog in the lightweight division.
“Yung pinaka-test ko ulit after losing that belt is this coming November 23, and I’m excited going into that battle again. Sana maging two-time world champion.”
Very rarely do fighters go undefeated in their professional careers, and they say that the true test of a champion is how he or she bounces back from adversity or defeat.
Time and time again, Folayang has managed to bounce back.
When people thought that he would never reach the top, he proved them wrong by becoming a champion.
When people thought that he was done, he again proved them wrong by being where he is now.
It’s through these kinds of struggles, Folayang says, that one learns about himself.
It’s this kind of pressure that molds one to become a champion.
“I believe na nakakatulong din [yung mga setbacks], although as much as possible din, ayaw natin ng ganun,” he said. “Pero siguro sa buhay hindi mo talaga masasabing upward palagi yung improvement, minsan talaga madudulas ka para makita mo yung space kung saan mag-iimprove ka pa, and makikita din talaga natin na everyone is improving, hindi lang tayo yung nag-iimprove tapos tapos na, no.
“Everybody is chasing greatness, and kapag nagkamali tayo, maabutan tayo, pero we need to come up stronger ulit,” he added.
At ONE: Conquest of Champions, Folayang once again finds himself one win away from a second run as the ONE Lightweight World Champion.
Once again, greatness is within reach for Eduard Folayang.
Eduard Folayang meets Amir Khan for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Championship at ONE: Conquest of Champions this Friday, November 23rd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. Catch the action LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 beginning at 8:30 PM!