Pioneer star Eduard Folayang not surprised with ONE Championship's success
Santino Honasan on Mar 30, 2019 07:09 AM
"I’m very happy to have headlined the first event, and I’m very happy to headline this event here again in Japan."
Probably a little-known fact about reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion and Filipino mixed martial arts icon Eduard "Landslide" Folayang is that he was actually on the main event of the first-ever ONE Championship card back in 2011.
Folayang, who had made a name for himself as a champion on the Philippine regional circuit, headlined ONE: Champion vs. Champion, the promotion's inaugural event in Singapore, against A Sol Kwon and winning via Unanimous Decision.
That was the start of what would be a storied career under the ONE Championship banner, and now, nearly eight years and 96 events later, the Team Lakay star is once again on the main event of the biggest ONE Championship card in history.
On Sunday, March 31st, the ONE cage hits Japan for the first time ever, and to celebrate the promotion's inaugural outing in The Land of the Rising Sun, they brought out their biggest stars in their most stacked fight card ever, and once again, Folayang is at the top of that bill.
Now a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion, Folayang will be defending his title against a Japanese legend and former champion in Shinya Aoki in a rematch of their 2016 bout that ended in a stunning TKO win for the Pinoy star.
At ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, Folayang and Aoki square off once again in what could be the biggest match in ONE lightweight history.
Looking back at how his career with ONE has gone so far, it's safe to say that the Baguio City-native could not be more please with how things are.
"Siyempre masaya ako, siguro swerte ako sa kanila, and swerte din sila sa akin," he said. "Masaya dahil nakikita ko sa mga naging decisions ko in the past na tama, kasi I’m still in the same promotion, doing the same things that I love and inspiring more people to be on their best."
Folayang also shares that he isn't the least bit surprised with how the Singapore-based promotion has grown from a fledgeling mixed martial arts organization to the biggest stage or martial arts in the world.
"Nakita ko kung paano sila magtrabaho, kung paano nila pakisamahan yung athletes nila, kung paano nila pakisamahan yung staff nila, so I never doubted na [magiging] ganito kalaki, at magiging mas malaki pa for sure."
Folayang is now widely considered as the "The Face of Philippine MMA", but that isn't something that he saw in the horizon when he first set foot onto a ONE Championship cage. For the 34-year old who is set to compete in his 13th ONE bout, it has always been about how to become a better martial artist.
"Yung gusto ko lang talaga, since the beginning, is kung paano mas maging mahusay pa, kung paano mas mahasa at maayos pa yung mga skills na nasa akin, kung paano mai-unleash. Yun lang naman yung nasa isip ko that time."
It's safe to say that Folayang is one of the pioneers of ONE Championship, and he has the distinction of being the promotion's first-ever headliner. Now, as ONE gets ready to enter A New Era, "Landslide" once again finds himself on top of the card with a chance to cement his name as one of the promotion's all-time greats.
"I’m very happy to have headlined the first event, and I’m very happy to headline this event here again in Japan," expressed Folayang.
Eduard Folayang defends his ONE Lightweight World Championship against Shinya Aoki at ONE: A New Era on Sunday, March 31st, LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD channel 166, and livestreaming on https://sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/one, the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page, and on the iWant App!