SINGAPORE — Exactly a year after a knockout loss, Filipino fighter Eduard Folayang was named Martial Arts Hero of the Year in the Global Martial Arts Awards 2018 on Thursday at JW Marriott Hotel, South Beach in Singapore.
The pride of Baguio City lost the ONE lightweight title after Australian Martin Nguyen landed a huge counter right hand off a Folayang spinning back fist which immediately turned the lights out for him in front of a jampacked crowd at the MOA Arena on November 10, 2017.
Looking back, the Pinoy MMA hero from Team Lakay never expected to win the award.
“I’m so happy, I’m not expecting that I’d be having this award,” he said. “But it’s an honor that they have chosen me to be the Martial Artist of the Year.”
Folayang, though, does not want to settle with just an award.
He wants to solidify his status as the Martial Arts Hero of the Year by winning the lightweight belt when he faces Singaporean Amir Khan on November 23 in Manila.
“It’s been a year since I lost my title and I really worked my ass out so that I can be able to be in the same position again to redeem that (title),” he said.
Folayang, who will turn 35 a day before the fight, vowed an exciting match as he seeks redemption.
“You’ll be expecting a good fight,” he said. “I put all my effort for this upcoming fight so it will be an exciting fight for sure.”
Folayang’s teammate Joshua Pacio won the Submission of the Year award for his "Passion Lock" submission win over Pongsiri Mitsatit at ONE: Reign of Kings in Manila in July.
Team Lakay’s mentor Mark Sangiao was named Coach of the Year and Team Lakay was the Gym of the Year.
The other awardees are as follows: Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion Aung La N Sang (Male Athlete of the Year), Women's Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee (Female Athlete of the Year), Oliver Coste (Referee of the Year), Brian Ortega (Knockout of the Year), ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion Stamp Fairtex (Breakout Athlete of the Year), Andy Nguyen (Walkout of the Year), ONE Championship's Lee Ji Na (Ring Girl of the Year), the five-round war between Aung La N Sang and Ken Hasegawa at ONE: Spirit of a Warrior in Myanmar (Bout of the Year), ONE: Kingdom of Heroes in Bangkok, Thailand held in October (Event of the Year) and Manabu Takashima of MMA Planet (Martial Arts Journalist of the Year).