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Folayang views latest clash with Aoki as a legacy fight

“THIS next fight is very important. It’s an important juncture in my career,” said Filipino MMA veteran and champion Eduard Folayang of his third fight with Japanese legend Shinya Aoki. — ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

FILIPINO mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang will face Japanese legend Shinya Aoki for the third time in ONE Championship in a fight the Team Lakay stalwart is viewing with much significance especially in further establishing his legacy in the sport.

Set to return to action at “ONE on TNT IV” in Singapore on April 29, Mr. Folayang (22-10) tries to go up one over Mr. Aoki in their ongoing lightweight rivalry where they have split their first two encounters.

Mr. 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.

Given what is at stake in his upcoming fight, the Baguio-based fighter said they in their team are working hard to have him ready and have the best possible game plan.

“This next fight is very important. It’s an important juncture in my career. Right now, the team is helping me prepare as always, and I am highly motivated to get this win. I have a pack of ferocious lions behind me, helping me sharpen my tools,” shared Mr. Folayang.

“I’m ready to go to war. Mentally and physically, I’m going to bring the best Eduard Folayang to the Circle,” he added.

The Filipino champion, however, admitted that presenting a challenge is the quick pivot they had to make since Mr. Folayang was originally set to face off with Japanese veteran Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama until the latter had to pull out of the contest due to injury. Mr. Aoki, too, saw his original opponent — American Sage Northcutt — back out, setting the stage for the trilogy fight with Mr. Folayang.

Despite that, Mr. Folayang is undeterred and forging ahead to have the best showing possible and win.

“Nevertheless, I’m going to be well prepared for the test he presents. I’m a striker through and through, but I will make the necessary adjustments for this fight. I am confident I will get my hands raised at the end,” he said.

Adding, “This is the most important fight of my career so far, and I will do everything I can to come out on top.”

“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.

Meanwhile, playing on Thursday, April 22, is “ONE on TNT III” headlined by the bantamweight collision between Brazilian John “Hands of Stone” Lineker and American Troy “Pretty Boy” Worthen.

It will be shown live in the country on One Sports beginning at 8:30 a.m. with an encore telecast on April 23 at 8:30 p.m. on the same channel and April 25 at 12 a.m. on TV5. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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