Eduard Folayang will face a very familiar foe at ONE on TNT IV.
The Team Lakay talisman will once again take on his Japanese rival, Shinya Aoki, in what ONE Championship says will be the "final chapter" of their storied rivalry.
The rubber match will take place at "ONE on TNT IV," the final installment in the four-part "ONE on TNT" event series which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on April 28 (April 29 in Asia).
Folayang was originally set to face Japanese-Korean icon Yoshihiro Akiyama in the bout that will be aired in the United States, but Akiyama was forced to withdraw after suffering an injury in training camp.
Aoki, meanwhile, was supposed to take on Sage Northcutt in what would have been the American's first fight in almost two years. However, Northcutt was also forced to back out due to lingering COVID-19 symptoms.
"This will be a monumental test for me," Folayang said of their encounter. "It's a sudden change of our preparation, but I'm a professional athlete so I have to be prepared for anything, at any given time."
"I have to be ready to calibrate for what will be served for that perfect aim. I am not a pessimistic person, and I’m a warrior. Naturally, I’m not expecting to lose, but to get the big victory this time," he added.
Aoki is similarly excited for the trilogy bout, calling it "meant to be."
"A lot of people have been waiting for this trilogy with Folayang," he said. "Looking back at the past two fights against him, I am very motivated to perform well. This fight is a great one for ONE Championship. I think this fight has a lot of meaning."
"It's fate that we meet again. As always, I will fight anyone, because I am a proud wrestler and fighter."
Folayang and Aoki split their first two meetings.
"Landslide" shocked the Japanese veteran in November 2016, when Folayang knocked out Aoki in the third round to win the ONE lightweight title for the first time.
But Aoki got his revenge in March 2019, submitting Folayang in the very first round to claim the championship. Aoki would lose the title in his next bout to Christian Lee, but has since bounced back with three consecutive victories.
Folayang, for his part, has lost four of his last five bouts, including back-to-back defeats to Pieter Buist and Antonio Caruso.
The main event of "ONE on TNT IV" features a light heavyweight showdown between reigning champion Aung La N Sang against Vitaly Bigdash.
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