No one has to remind former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang about what his upcoming match against Zhang “The Warrior” Lipeng means.
The pair of lightweight greats are in for a collision course in the main event of the previously recorded ONE: Battleground II, which airs on August 13, from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Folayang, who has struggled over his last six bouts, knows that he needs to give a performance of a lifetime to keep in step with the rest of the athletes in the growing lightweight division.
“The preparation has been well. We’ve trained for about six weeks for this match,” Folayang said.
“We all know the magnitude of this match for my career. It hasn’t been a good stretch so far, so I really have to win this in order to keep floating and get that first win for me this year.”
“Floating” will certainly be easier said than done, as Folayang would have to make waves if he wants to survive the Chinese icon who, like him, is looked upon as one of the biggest mixed martial artists in his country.
Zhang revolutionized the sport in China after heading out west and making a name for himself before returning home to win 21 bouts in a span of six years, with 17 of those victories coming from finishes.
In that span, “The Warrior” continued to polish his all-around skills, something that Folayang took note of – even if the Chinese athlete is known for his stand up skills.
“Zhang is a striker. [But] if he feels like he has an advantage on the ground, he’ll pursue it. I think that’s his main style. He adjusts well on the fly,” Folayang said.
“I have to be prepared. As much as possible, he’ll try to get this match to the ground. We’ve been preparing for that, so hopefully the execution will be much better this time around.”
While people still doubt Folayang’s chances of regaining his throne, the soft-spoken Filipino is shutting down those talks.
If he still believes he can compete, and if his mind tells him that he still has what it takes, then that’s the only thing that matters for him.
“Sometimes, the sweetest victory comes in the end, as long as you don’t give up. I believe that’s life. We’ve done it in the past. Nobody thought I'd ever be a world champion, but I persevered,” Folayang said.
“There will be losses and wins, but as long as you never give up, keep a strong mind, that’s the key. The moment I give up, the moment my mind breaks down, that’s the end of me. I have to be tough, no matter the struggles, the failures. As long as I really want it, then it will be the sweetest victory.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES