ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang Looks To Sway Pro-Aoki Crowd To His Side

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 30, 2019 07:24 PM
Eduard Folayang Looks To Sway Pro-Aoki Crowd To His Side
“If I pull that off, I think that is one of the best ways to capture the Japanese fanbase."

ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard "Landslide" Folayang looks to win over what is expected to be a partisan crowd when he defends his title against Shinya "Tobikan Judan" Aoki in the main event of ONE: A NEW ERA on Sunday, 31 March at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.

The upcoming showdown between the two mixed martial artists is a rematch of their first encounter in November 2016 at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR, where Folayang shocked the world by defeating the Japanese legend via third-round TKO.

Now, two and a half years since that historic win, the Filipino finds himself unfamiliar territory.

Folayang is usually a crowd favorite wherever he competes, but Japan will be a different place altogether, as he will be facing the hometown legend.

However, knowing how respectful and knowledgeable the Japanese martial arts fans are, “Landslide” thinks a good performance could sway them to his side.

"Of course I need to give a convincing victory — a different, creative, and innovative way to win the fight,” he says.

“If I pull that off, I think that is one of the best ways to capture the Japanese fanbase."

The ONE Lightweight World Champion saw his first title reign end when he lost to Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD in November 2017, but he reclaimed the strap when he dominated Amir Khan en route to a unanimous decision at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS just four months ago.

Aoki, for his part, has also found his way back to the top of the lightweight division. Currently, he is on a three-bout win streak, which all came via TKO or submission in the very first round.

Although the Japanese icon is streaking, so is Folayang, who does not expect to see anything new from his rival.

"I think Shinya Aoki will use the same old approach inside the cage,” the Filipino says.

“Those who are commenting that his striking has improved may have not watched his previous fights carefully. If you would look at it, he clearly wants the fight to hit the ground as early as possible.”

The 35-year-old also believes his confidence will not be an issue, especially because he and his teammates — bantamweight king Kevin Belingon and flyweight contender Danny Kingad — have worked double-time to reach prime form ahead of the biggest event in the history of ONE Championship.

Because of that, Folayang anticipates a clean sweep for Team Lakay.

“[People] can expect a win because we know we did our part during training sessions. We want to live up to the expectations, we want to get results,” he says.

"As much as possible, we want to finish the match. We want a convincing victory so it doesn’t have to go to the scorecards.”


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