MMA: Zhang Lipeng is 'fully prepared' for Folayang


Posted at Aug 12 2021 02:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Chinese mixed martial arts veteran Zhang Lipeng has high hopes upon joining one of the world's largest martial arts organizations in ONE Championship.

Zhang, a former winner of TUF: China, will be making his debut in the ONE Circle this week.

He will face former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang in the main event of ONE: Battleground II, a tape-delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore which airs on Friday.

"I'm very happy to join ONE Championship," Zhang said. "I always (thought) that ONE is the best promotion in the combat sports world."

"If I want to try to prove that I am the best in China, the best in my division, I have to join a promotion as high level as ONE Championship and compete with all the highest level fighters," he added.

Zhang will be ending a long layoff, as he last fought in September 2019 when he submitted Mohammad Naeemi at a KLF event. Since then, the Chinese fighter has put a pause on his career due to several factors. 

He is now ready to climb back into the cage and resume his journey to the top.

Zhang is also confident that his time away has not taken any edge off his game, and he expects to pick up where he left off.

However, in order to reach the upper echelon of ONE's stacked lightweight division, Zhang knows he has to get past Folayang -- not an easy task as the Filipino is one of the most celebrated veterans in the promotion.

"I haven't stopped training for a day over the last two years. So I don't think my conditioning or my fighting skills have lost anything. [The layoff] doesn't affect me a lot," he assured.

"When I first heard that I would face Folayang, I felt very happy, felt very honored. He's a veteran in this game. And I'm fully prepared for him. I know he's a tough guy with a tough style. He has a Sanda background and I'm fully prepared for this guy," Zhang also said.

"I've been watching him fight for a long time. I have to say this without any disrespect, I think I'm better at grappling, striking game, BJJ, everywhere. I think I'm a more technical fighter than him."

Should he be successful against Folayang, Zhang is already eyeing another veteran of the sport, and a former ONE world champion -- Shinya Aoki.

"I have actually been a fan of his for a long time and I have been watching him fight for a very long time in ONE Championship. It's my honor and my dream to fight with him one day in ONE Championship," Zhang said of Aoki.