After months away from the limelight, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is ready to make his return.
Folayang lost his title to ONE Featherweight Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen last November, and the Filipino star admits the knockout loss was the biggest defeat of his career.
Now, after a period of reflection to recharge his batteries, Folayand says he’s more determined than ever to get back to winning ways, and soar to the summit of the ONE Championship lightweight division once more.
“I will do whatever it takes to get back to the top,” said the 34-year-old.
“It has not been easy. Losing rarely is. But real champions always get back up, and never surrender.”
The first step back to the top takes place this weekend at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in Singapore, where Folayang takes on undefeated Russian Kharun “Predator” Atlangeriev.
It’s a tough assignment for the returning former world champion, but Folayang says he’s more than aware of the pitfalls, and is happy to have the backing of his team, Baguio City’s Team Lakay, ahead of the contest.
“This game is very unpredictable. Anything can happen,” said Folayang
“You really need to be careful and well-calculated, execute your game plan, and stick to your strategy.
“This is where your corner becomes an important part of your success. I am glad I have my brothers from Team Lakay, my coach Mark Sangiao, and all the fans rallying behind me.”
Undefeated with a record of 11-0, Atlangeriev is a Russian sambo champion who has finished all but one of his opponents to date with five by TKO and five by submission.
His main threat is his seasoned grappling, but Folayang says he’s ready for the challenge, and believes he has the skills to counter the Russian to keep the fight standing.
“I have seen some tape of Kharun,” he explained.
“He is very technical on the ground, and very strong. He does have good striking skills, but I think his strength is really his wrestling.
“I want to be able to test his stand-up. I want to test how strong he is, and if he can stay standing with me. It is going to be a battle of wills. We are working on a great strategy in camp, so we will see how it goes.”
Folayang had trouble with grappling-based athletes earlier in his career, losing back-to-back contests against Kamal Shalorus and Lowen Tynanes five years ago. But after those defeats, “Landslide” dedicated himself to working on that aspect of his game to ensure he would never be dominated by a grappler again.
And that dedication paid off when he defeated one of the sport’s most skilled grapplers, Japan’s Shinya Aoki, to capture the ONE Lightweight World Championship in November 2016.
Now, he believes his improvements, and his overall experience as an athlete in ONE Championship, will stand him in good stead against the undefeated challenge of Atlangeriev in Singapore.
“I have been in this game a long time. I have seen everything there is to see. I have been in the cage with the world’s most talented grapplers, and I have been in there with some very hard punchers,” he said.
“My experience has become one of my greatest assets. Whatever Kharun brings to the table, I will make the right adjustments. We do not know how he will react yet in the heat of things, so we will see.
“I am preparing for the best, but expecting the worst. You have to look at this from all angles, and visualize every route to success.”