MMA: Young Team Lakay stars see different fire to 'Kuya Eduard' Folayang

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2021 06:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino MMA fighter Eduard "Landslide" Folayang will be under the microscope when he takes on another veteran in Korean-Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama at "ONE on TNT IV" later this month.

The event will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and will air in the Philippines on April 29. 

For Folayang, it is an opportunity to end one of the most difficult stretches of his storied MMA career. The Team Lakay icon has dropped four of his last five matches, including back-to-back defeats to Pieter Buist and Antonio Caruso.

His teammates in the famed camp are confident that their "kuya" will be well-prepared entering the bout against Akiyama, who is best known for his long stint in UFC.

"Strong po 'yung mindset niya," said Filipina strawweight Jenelyn Olsim, who appeared on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning together with ONE strawweight champion Joshua Pacio. "At saka hindi po siya nagpapatalo."

"Kumbaga, pinu-push niya po 'yung sarili niya at saka mas motivated po siya ngayon na bumalik ulit, para kunin po 'yung win," she added.

Pacio, who trains with Folayang, said that the 37-year-old veteran is already in good condition even with the fight still a few weeks away.

"Kasama ko 'yan na tumatakbo sa bundok, and mas nauuna pa nga siya sa akin eh," he said. "I can see na iba, iba si Kuya Eduard ngayon and makikita niyo 'yan sa last week ng April."

Moreover, Pacio believes that Folayang is fired up by critics who have been calling for his retirement after his recent losing streak. Folayang had made it clear after his loss to Caruso in October 2020 that he does not intend to retire.

"Kasi maraming nagsasabi na retire, retire, retire. And I think, that's what makes him more motivated right now," Pacio said of his veteran teammate.

"Nakikita namin ngayon kung gaano ka-hungry si Kuya Eduard na bumalik," he also said. "I think dito, sinasabi niya nga sa amin na, kung mananalo siya dito is, talagang pag-iigihan niya and papanalunin niya, two to three fights to get back to title contention." 

Folayang has won the ONE Championship lightweight belt on two occasions, first in November 2016 when he upset Shinya Aoki, and then again in November 2018 when he outpointed Amir Khan to claim the vacant title. 

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