Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is on a mission to reclaim the ONE Lightweight World Title, and he is building momentum as he looks to position himself for a rematch with the man who took the belt from him.
Folayang lost to Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD last November, but the Filipino star bounced back with a dominant decision victory over previously undefeated Russian Kharun “Predator” Atlangeriev at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in May.
“I felt good in my last bout, honestly,” he says, looking back at the victory.
“Although, of course, I always feel like I could have done just a little better.
“I am always looking at how I can get better in every aspect. I feel like my wrestling and grappling has reached a new level over the past few months. There is a lot of room to improve, but little by little, I will get to where I need to be.
“Lightweight is one of the deepest divisions in the organisation, and there are so many great guys all wanting to get to the top. I have to keep winning so I can stay in the mix.”
“Landslide” is looking to continue that upward trajectory against another undefeated Russian debutant, Aziz Pahrudinov at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila on 27 July.
Pahrudinov arrives in ONE Championship with a record of 20-0-1 and is a former Sambo World Champion with 19 stoppage wins to his name.
Folayang has done his homework on his opponent, and says he knows he faces a tough proposition when they meet in Manila later this month.
“He is another tough Russian opponent, with the typical Russian style – aggressive and calculated. He has great wrestling and solid striking, and excellent all-around skills,” he explains.
“It is hard to face these kinds of fighters, because you have to be on your toes the entire bout. Get too close, and there is the threat of the takedown. I will be prepared to face this style once again.
“This is going to be a good, exciting fight, and I am excited. I will do my best to keep every advantage and win. He does not have many weaknesses, but I would like to test his striking. Let’s see if he can keep up with me on the feet.”
While Folayang knows he must stay focused on his own contest, he will almost certainly have half an eye on the night’s main-event bout, where Nguyen faces off against his Team Lakay teammate Kevin Belingon for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title.
“Kevin and I have been training together since our professional debuts back in the Philippines,” Folayang says.
“We have a long history together as teammates, and it makes me happy to see him at this level. Competing on the same card, it is both an honour and a privilege.
“This is a good test for Kevin, and I know he can get the win. Martin is an intelligent martial artist, however, so it will all come down to who wants it more. Whoever imposes his will is going to walk out of the arena with that belt.”
While he’s hoping to see his teammate get the ‘W’ and defeat Nguyen, Folayang also wants to face “The Situ-Asian” again as he looks to reclaim the ONE Lightweight World Title.
First, he has to hand the dangerous Pahrudinov the first loss of his career.