MMA: Folayang grateful for decade-long run with ONE Championship

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2022 07:10 PM

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When Eduard Folayang competed in ONE Championship’s inaugural card in September 2011, both were newcomers in the global MMA scene.
 
Fast forward nearly 11 years, and the former 2-time ONE lightweight champion can only smile as he fondly recalls how far he and ONE have gone.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said the Filipino legend, who debuted with a victory over A Sol Kwon in the main event of ONE: Champion versus Champion. 

“As [ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong] said, during that first ONE Championship event, he wasn’t really known. We weren’t known at all. Now, here we are.” 

Throughout his years with ONE, the Team Lakay athlete has reached some of the highest points in his combat sports career, including a massive TKO over Shinya Aoki to win the lightweight MMA gold for the first time in 2016. 

Although he lost the belt thereafter, Folayang reclaimed the world title by dominating Amir Khan in front of his compatriots at a jam-packed Mall of Asia Arena in 2018. 

Then last Saturday, the man nicknamed “Landslide” competed on the grand finale of ONE X -- a three-part card celebrating the promotion’s 10th anniversary -- where he defeated John Wayne Parr in a legend-versus-legend Muay Thai match. 
 
Overall, the 38-year-old has competed more than anybody else in ONE Championship history (23), while his 13 victories in the organization rank second all time behind another former ONE lightweight world champion Christian Lee with 15. 

Folayang has endured his share of heartaches, losses, and doubts along the way, but he only feels gratitude for how his partnership with the organization has turned out. 

“In a decade of competing here, we’ve learned a lot. I was given the opportunity to meet a lot of different people, people like you from the press. That wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t stick it out with ONE, the promotion which truly made me a household name,” he said. 

“I’m so grateful and happy to be able to show the principle of loyalty, not only to your team, but also loyalty to your promotion where you took off.” 

In the end, the Filipino icon believes their collaboration worked because both sides have always shared the same goals and values. 

“Over the years, ONE Championship and Team Lakay have built a great relationship. Of course, we see the value in each other. And hand-in-hand, we’re promoting not only this organization but also the value of martial arts,” said Folayang.

“I’m so happy that we have this kind of relationship with the organization.”