ONE Championship: 'Andun pa yung fire' - Eduard Folayang highly motivated as he begins his comeback

Santino Honasan on Nov 07, 2019 05:50 PM
 Eduard Folayang highly motivated as he begins his comeback
“Yung pakiramdam na alam mong mayroon ka pang potential, hindi mo pa nai-uunleash yung full potential mo, yun yung parang nagpapalakas sa akin, na hindi pa dapat mag-give up, kasi still, andun parin yung fire na mag-rise up again,” - Eduard Folayang (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

After absorbing back-to-back defeats for just the second time in his professional mixed martial arts career, Filipino star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang once again finds himself on the comeback trail as he tries to once again have his hand raised in victory inside the ONE Circle. 

The former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion dropped the title to Shinya Aoki in the first defense of his second run as champion back in March, and then followed that up with a loss to Eddie Alvarez in August. 

At 34 years of age, there really isn’t much left for Folayang to prove. A professional since 2007, Folayang has a respectable 21-8 professional record which includes championships in regional promotions and two world championship runs under the ONE banner. As it stands, he is already the face of Filipino MMA. 

If he were to, say, hang his gloves up and dedicate his life to coaching future champions from Team Lakay, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would take it against him. 

Yet, Folayang is gearing up for a return to action at ONE: Masters of Fate this coming Friday, November 8th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines. He faces Mongolian up-and-comer Amarsanaa “Spear” Tsogookhu in the co-main event.

When asked what keeps him motivated, even after back-to-back losses, the former Philippine Wushu National Team Member and multiple-time SEA Games gold medalist says that he believes there’s still a lot for him to show. 

“Yung pakiramdam na alam mong mayroon ka pang potential, hindi mo pa nai-uunleash yung full potential mo, yun yung parang nagpapalakas sa akin, na hindi pa dapat mag-give up, kasi still, andun parin yung fire na mag-rise up again,” Folayang told ABS-CBN Sports. “I think purposely, inallow ni God [yung mga losses ko] para makita ko yung mga areas na kailangan kong ayusin and yung mga pagkakamali talaga na kailangan kong iwasan sa mga future bouts ko.”

For Folayang, the Alvarez bout in Manila last August is one that stung quite a bit. 

A former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion, Alvarez’s signing with ONE was met with lots of hype and anticipation. As early as then, a potential matchup with Folayang was already something that fans of the Asian martial arts promotion were intrigued to see. 

When the bout was finally going to take place, it was billed as a must-see matchup between two of the division’s biggest stars. 

Indeed, the bout lived up to the hype as it included a little bit of everything that a fight fan would want to see. Folayang, a striking expert, was the more aggressive fighter on the feet and was able to use his best weapon - his tree-trunk legs - to do damage and chop Alvarez down. 

Once he had dropped “The Underground King” Folayang went in for the kill, and that eagerness to get the finish was what ultimately led to the Pinoy hero’s downfall in the match. 

While obviously hurt by the chopping leg kick he had absorbed just moments earlier, Alvarez remained composed as he tried to survive the landslide of strikes coming from Folayang. The American found his opening and flipped Folayang over for the reversal before taking the Filipino’s back and finally getting the Rear Naked Choke Submission, forcing the hometown bet to tap out. 

“Gina-gauge ko yung sarili ko eh, alam mo yun? Yung expectations ko sa kanya, hindi ganun eh. Sobrang taas, tapos nung laglaban kami, naramdaman ko, pero siyempre, nakalimutan ko siguro na magaling din siya sa ground, or either nang-gigil ako na gusto kong tumayo ulit para tapusin na namin yung laban sa taas,” Folayang explained. 

“Siguro yun yung naging mga pagkakamali ko that time, na ayaw ko maulit. Hindi ako naging composed sa sarili ko, nakalimutan ko na yung laban ay mixed martial arts, kung saan lahat ng angle, kapag dun ka kinuha, kahit nananalo ka na sa isang area, hindi yun yung laban eh. Yung laban ay yung kung natapos na. Siguro yun yung parang nakita ko na nagkamali ako,” he added. 

Had Folayang won, he would have advanced to the Finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan. 

Alvarez ultimately pulled out after an injury had barred him from competing in the finale against Turkey’s Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev. Arslanaliev ultimately lost to Christian Lee, who stepped in as Alvarez’s replacement. 

Throughout his career, Folayang has had some rather heartbreaking losses, but the Alvarez one has to be up there as one of the most, especially since he was quite dominant in the opening moments of the bout. 

Folayang admits that it took quite a bit for him to get over that. 

“Hindi [ako agad naka-get over] eh, kasi everytime, may makaka-salubong na na ireremind sayo, ‘Sayang!’ yung ganun,”

But it was also that bout against Alvarez - specifically that sequence that nearly ended the fight in his favor - that somehow made him realize what he is still capable of.  

“Dun ko din talaga nakita na, kung yung ganung level ni Alvarez, sa kalakasan niya, nasurpass ko, I think mayroon pa talaga eh. Hindi ko pa talaga nare-reach yung full potential ko eh, may mas maipapakita pa ako na mas magandang performance, lalo na kapag idinagdag ko yung mga experience ko na kagaya nung mga ganung experience.”

To help move past the loss, Folayang returned to the gym to help his teammates who were getting ready for their big matches in Tokyo. 

Hardly taking any damage in the loss to Alvarez, Folayang was pretty much in shape to get back in action, and a small window of opportunity appeared when it was announced that Alvarez had pulled out. 

According to ONE Championship Chairman Chatri Sityodtong, Folayang was the first option to replace Alvarez, but with just around two weeks left before fight night, visa issues prevented the Filipino star from stepping in, opening the door for Lee to do so. 

“Siyempre, hindi naman natin alam kung ano yung mangyayari, kasi professional na tayo, kailangan lagi parin tayong handa, although siyempre, yung nasa utak natin talaga ay gusto natin lumaban, kaya nagte-training pa din. So nung sinabi yung late replacement kay Dagi, nag-oo ako, pero unfortunately, hindi talaga siguro time,” Folayang said. 

The time for Folayang’s comeback, as it turns out, was the month after. 

Facing a relatively unknown opponent in Tsogookhu, Folayang has the chance to get back on track and pick up a solid win, but it could also prove to be a high-risk challenge, as Tsogookhu was impressive in his debut against veteran Shannon Wiratchai. 

Folayang says that he fully understands the risk behind the fight, but to be able to get back to the top of the division, he must be able to face risk head on. 

“Yun yung maganda sa MMA, the more na naiintindihan mo na it’s high risk, alam mo yun. Kasi kahit sabihin mo na more experienced ka, kung mag-commit ka ng single mistake, kakainin ka eh, so, yun. We are fighters, as much as possible, kung sino man yung mag-sstand dun sa way natin, kailangan natin i-face para makabalik tayo doon sa inaasam natin.”

 

Catch ONE: MASTERS OF FATE live on Friday, November 8th LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 on LIVESTREAM via the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page and on iWant starting at 8:30 PM.

ONE: MASTERS OF FATE will also air on Sunday's Best on November 17th, Sunday, at 11:30 PM with local commentatry from Anton Roxas and Theo Castillo

 

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