The proof is in the pudding and Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is treating his next bout against Chinese star Zhang Lipeng in the main event of ONE: BATTLEGROUND II on August 13 in Singapore like a make-or-break match in its truest form.
“I agree and I see it as a make-or-break, meaning break in a literal way that it will be the fight that will break my skid of losses,” he said aware that his past slide diminish his record to 22-11.
“Every fight is important to me so yes, I need to be so focused to make it this time. This fight against Zhang means a lot because it will give me the opportunity to step forward again, one step closer to my goal of becoming a champion once more.”, he claims, showing his belief that he is still on top of his game and can still hang with the best the lightweight division has to offer.
It’s easy to say that Folayang has really nothing else to prove in his career. Being the face of Philippine mixed martial arts in the past half-decade, he has led the Filipino charge in the realm of ONE Championship as warriors from Team Lakay showed that it truly can be considered as among the best athletes in the world.
Though his legacy is already intact, Folayang argues that he still has a lot more to give. “I’m not yet done,” a defiant Folayang said. “In fact, I’m more fired up than ever.”
At this point, Folayang should have grown tired of the criticism thrown his way, on whether at 36, the two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion should already hang his gloves for good.
Fairly. the Igorot warrior’s being on the losing end in his last three fights and four of the last five fueled the doubts thrown his way.
This deep skid had been the ground of Folayang’s critics to conclude he is farther than ever from the pinnacle of the lightweight division.
It has been more than two years since Folayang last draped the illustrious ONE Lightweight World Championship on his shoulders.
And there’s no question he misses the feeling of holding that title on his arms and wearing it on his waist, even at his age.
The Team Lakay veteran, however, must understand his current situation and accept that there’s only one way to silence the chatter, both on his status as one of the best in the weight class and his capabilities to still be on top whenever he enters the ONE Circle, he has to come up with a winning performance.
He did lament those critics whose only intention is to pull people down. “Sometimes people who are doing nothing and have nothing to strive for want you to be like them and they do this by talking negatively and pulling people down,” he said.
And at this stage of his career, it might have to take an emphatic win over Zhang to silence the critics.
ONE Championship did report that Folayang is in the mindset that a win of that magnitude should catapult him back in the conversation among the next possible challengers for current ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee.
Folayang’s last finish came almost five years ago, when his star shot up the heavens with a third round technical knockout win over Shinya Aoki to capture his first ONE Lightweight World Championship at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR in Singapore.
Folayang gave emphasis to his faith and his training regimen as key factors in winning his upcoming fight.
“All I do is to pray harder and train smarter. I believe that in the right time, I will be able to get rid of that skid. And that’s why me and my team are working together to bring the win home this time,” he said.
He also knows he can’t look past Zhang if he is to show he remains dedicated to his craft and can compete among the ONE lightweight elites.
“I still have lots of names I have in mind that I want to fight, one of which being that canceled match against [Yoshihiro] Akiyama. But right now, I need to focus on who’s in front of me and that is Zhang. Everything will just follow from there.”
Lastly, he also imparted the lesson of learning from failures and bouncing back, not just to himself but to his followers.
“I want everyone to see and learn how failures will turn into victories if we keep enduring and never give up on our dreams and goals. That’s just the message that I want to convey: Never give up on your dreams and never stop improving. I just keep on fighting, continue to watch and learn from others, and be receptive to the advice coming from your coach and team,” he said.
Meanwhile, reigning ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio believes Folayang will win this fight on an explosive finish.
“This fight is a fight that he needs to win because this will be his first step towards that big goal of his. I am truly confident that he will be able to win. I [predict] that it will be via stoppage in the third round.” said Pacio in a ONE interview.
“The Passion” thinks Folayang’s mindset and his own passion for the sport can take him back to the top. “We all know that his goal is to win the World Championship again, so this is a very important fight for him,” Pacio says.
By Armando M. Bolislis