A lot of MMA fans this side of the world rejoiced when Eduard “Lanslide” Folayang captured the ONE Lightweight World Championship in historical fashion, accomplishing what many thought was improbable, by scoring a technical knockout over then champion Shinya Aoki in the third round of a November 11, 2016 title bout.
Many yet did not know the up and down, bumpy ride Folayang had on his way to MMA superstardom.
In an interview with ONE Championship, Folayang recalled how his rise to the top began.
“My journey in ONE Championship ever since my first bout has been a roller coaster,” said Folayang in the interview. “There were moments in my career when I was already near to a title shot, but suddenly I lost momentum. And then I climbed the ladder again and fell again.”
His rise started with his fight to escape poverty. His ordeal was probably incomparable to many of us, as five of his eight siblings passed away due to sickness, simply because they did not have access to proper medical care.
His father worked as a laborer and part-time farmer and his mother worked as a lanbandera. Both his parents never learned to read or write.
The good thing about it is, the illiteracy his parents had was something they made sure didn’t happen to their children.
“My parents sacrificed a lot to bring us to school. Sometimes, they even borrowed money just for us to pay our tuition fees,” recalled Folayang in the said interview. “In their daily lives they didn’t focus on just one job, they found extra work that they could do so that it would compensate for the needs that we had.”
Folayang did nothing but fulfill his parents’ wish, albeit with a twist.
He pursued his education, eventually graduating from the University of the Cordilleras and proceeded to teach English and Physical Education in high school after graduation.
But along the way, he decided to take up wushu, and took up a scholarship in the discipline to help pay his way through college and lessen the burden on his parents.
This decision paved a way for a sports endeavor that would change his life forever.
Proving talented enough to join the Philippine Wushu Team, Folayang won eleven major medals, including three golds at the Southeast Asian Games. Plus, while still actively participating in the discipline, he adapted his skills for the MMA cage in 2007.
On June 2007, made his professional MMA debut for Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC). He knocked out Allan Co in the first round and took home the belt at stake in the bout.
That made him realize martial arts would become the means for him to inspire others with his abilities and get the Landslide show on the road.
Folayang racked up eight more wins and one loss in the URCC, Gorilla Warfare MMA, and Martial Combat before signing with ONE Championship in 2011. He participated in the main event of the organization’s inaugural show, ONE: CHAMPION VS CHAMPION, and defeated A-Sol Kwon via unanimous decision on September 3, 2011.
“Landslide” would experience some mixed results in his next seven bouts in a ONE cage, going 4-3. That set him up for a meeting with Timofey Nastyukhin in December 5, 2014 and got a heartbreaking knockout loss. The soccer kicks and a flying knee he absorbed that night, when the Philippines should have been in holiday season mode, made him ponder thoughts on hanging the gloves permanently.
To be continued…