FIVE fighters from Team Lakay see action in One: Age of Domination, all looking to draw inspiration from the victory stablemate and now lightweight champion Eduard Folayang.
Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Edward Kelly, Danny Kingad and April Osenio are set to battles tough foes at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.
Folayang is the first to defeat Shinya Aoki since the Japanese MMA star signed with One Championship in 2012.
“It was such a joy to watch my friend and brother win the title. I am happy for him. It is an amazing feeling because I know I was able to help him achieve his goals,” said Banario.
“We always try to help each other in training, and we have improved a lot together.”
Fighters gathered at Lakay Gym two weeks ago to watch Folayang fight on television, stayed up late to celebrate, and were still so fired up to train the next day.
“The next day, I felt so inspired. I trained three times the next day. I had so much energy,” said atomweight fighter April Osenio.
“Aoki’s game plan just didn’t work out. Eduard really deserved the win, he has been preparing for this moment his entire career. When he had Aoki cornered against the fence, every punch Eduard landed with that right drew cheers from everyone watching. It was awesome,” said Kelly, a featherweight standout.
“In the first round, When Shinya [Aoki] took Eduard’s back, I was scared for him. That wasn’t a good position to be in. So when coach Eduard was able to get out of that, to defend against that, and escape, that’s when a great feeling came over me,” said Kingad.
“I knew then that Eduard can handle Aoki’s grappling. I can’t describe the feeling that I felt when he won. I was so happy. Nobody watching with me was sitting down. Everyone was going wild.”
Eustaquio says Folayang really deserves the title.
“I was watching the fight online. The moment that we observed Aoki’s spirit was subdued, we screamed at the referee to stop the fight. Then when he stopped the fight, it was all crazy from there,” said bantamweight contender Geje Eustaquio.
“Everybody was jumping. It was so hard to contain our happiness at that time. We all went to bed past two in the morning, celebrating. We just couldn’t contain ourselves. We know Eduard deserves that title. He has been in One Championship since the beginning until now. He really deserves that belt. It’s the best feeling in the world, when you reap what you sow. Now is the time for him. It’s harvest period.”
After the victory, Folayang spent a few days in Singapore with his family before going to Los Angeles to join One fighters Martin Nguyen and Peter Davis in a promotional event.
“It hasn't sunk in yet that I am a world champion. It's overwhelming. A lot of people have seen the fight. They didn't expect that I would win. It's really a life-changing experience. Now there's a lot of people interested in me. It's fun,” said Folayang, who will be at the MOA Arena for Age of Domination to support his teammates.
“It's really a great feeling. I haven't had a good night's sleep since I won the title. It's been a life-changing experience. I give thanks to everyone for their support.”