MANILA, Philippines -- Former two-time ONE lightweight champion and Filipino mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Eduard "Landslide" Folayang will finally make his way back to the ONE Championship Circle later this month.
The 36-year-old veteran will see action against rising lightweight star Antonio "The Spartan" Caruso of Australia in a three-round encounter at ONE: Inside the Matrix on October 30.
The venue for the event has yet to be officially announced by ONE Championship.
Folayang guarantees that he will be ready for the bout as he and his brothers at the famed Team Lakay have spent their time in lockdown wisely, continuing to hone their skills to stay ready for any opportunity.
"I'm so excited to be back in action again, especially since having to wait so long in lockdown," said Folayang, who trained in Baguio City together with his Team Lakay teammates. "We've been eagerly anticipating when we will be able to return to competition, and I am glad that moment has finally arrived."
"We're absolutely pumped and training very hard right now to put on a good show," he said.
Folayang admitted that the past few months have been "very difficult" as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis initially posed challenges for the team in their training, but they never stepped working.
"We used our time to sharpen our tools and skills," he said.
Prior to the pandemic, Folayang struggled in 2019, going a dismal 1-2 in the calendar year. He started off by surrendering his ONE lightweight title to Japanese rival Shinya Aoki in ONE's first show in Tokyo. He then lost to former UFC lightweight king Eddie Alvarez in Manila.
Although Folayang came back with an impressive decision win over Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu later on in the year, Folayang suffered another setback this past January, dropping a close split decision to third-ranked lightweight Pieter Buist.
Thus, Folayang knows his next performance will be crucial to his career, and he is putting himself in the best position to win.
"I can say the results of these next few fights are very important to us, as we haven't gotten the results we wanted recently. So now, we are really aiming for the best results possible," said Folayang.
"We are completely focused on doing whatever it takes to claim victory right now. It's not going to be easy, but we're ready to give it our best. We want to go in there with confidence," he added.
Against Caruso, Folayang faces a former boxer and competitive grappling champion. Caruso honed his skills under legendary trainer Henri Hooft alongside top-level training partners, including ONE world champions Aung La N Sang and Martin Nguyen.
He holds a 7-1 professional record, and looks to improve on that by taking down a big name in Folayang.
"Landslide" said he is taking the challenge Caruso poses seriously.
"Antonio Caruso is a strong fighter. I've seen his previous fights. I don't think he's a guy you can really take lightly," said Folayang. "Of course, I am doing everything I can to prepare for his style."
"As usual, it's going to be about dictating the pace and making him fight my fight," he added. "You can't underestimate anyone in this game, so I'm not about to start with him. I've been training for a very long time now, even if I didn't know who my opponent was going to be."
"I just wanted to get myself ready physically, and I just feel so strong right now. Mentally, I'm focused, and getting right to where I need to be."