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Team Lakay’s Folayang now focuses on familiar foe Aoki

EDUARD Folayang (right) of the Philippines will face off with Japanese Shinya Aoki in ONE Championship for the third time.

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

TEAM Lakay’s Eduard “Landslide” Folayang will take on Japanese legend Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki for the third time in ONE Championship.

Originally set to fight different opponents this month, the two former lightweight champions found their paths meeting anew after “unlikely turn of events.”

Mr. Folayang (22-10) was to face off with Japanese veteran Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama but the latter had to pull out of the contest due to injury. Mr. Aoki (46-9), meanwhile, was to battle American Sage Northcutt, who was forced to withdraw after reportedly testing positive for coronavirus.

The Folayang-Aoki fight is now part of “ONE on TNT IV” set for April 29 (Manila time).

The contest incidentally will serve as a de facto rubber match after the two combatants split their previous two matches.

Baguio’s Folayang took the first back in 2016, knocking out then ONE lightweight champ Aoki in the third round to become the new champion.

The Japanese then exacted payback in 2019 when he submitted the Filipino by way of arm triangle choke in the opening round to reclaim the lightweight belt.

While surprised to be paired anew with Mr. Aoki, Mr. Folayang said they are now in the process of recalibrating their game plan at Team Lakay and working on his game.

“This will be a monumental test for me. 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,” Mr. Folayang said in a release.

Adding, “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.”

“ONE on TNT IV” is headlined by the ONE light heavyweight world championship fight between champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang and challenger Vitaly Bigdash of Russia.

The event is the fourth and last installment of the “ONE on TNT” series, which is catered to North America apart from the promotion’s traditional audience. Matches in the series are being broadcast both digitally and on television on prime time in the United States.

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