A LOT may have changed in Eduard Folayang’s life since winning the One lightweight title last year.
Amid all those changes, one thing remains constant – Folayang’s his underdog mentality.
Folayang appears to be the favored fighter when he defends his title against One featherweight king Martin Nguyen in a historic champion vs champion bout in One: Legends of the World on November 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Yet the soft-spoken warrior from Benguet insists he’s the same hungry fighter who stunned Shinya Aoki, one of greatest lightweights of all time, to reign the One lightweight division.
“Those were the memories where I went in as an underdog. Most of the people watching, the fans and experts were not expecting me to win,” Folayang fondly remembers as he came in a heavy underdog against Aoki.
“Those are my motivation. The memories and the experience that I got from there. I take all of them as part of this fight so as much as possible, I can defend the belt for a longtime,” he added.
Aside from being the face of Philippine MMA, Folayang also does his best to inspire and motivate other people through his life story.
The 32-year-old Wushu specialist also came from a tough life, hurdling adversity one after the other before finding a lifeline through martial arts.
Now that he has overcome those trials, he’s using his championship run not only to promote MMA in the country, but to be the model for all those kids who may be going through what he went through when he was younger.
“A lot has changed. Now that I’m a world champion, I can inspire through my life story,” said Folayang. “I can give a little bit of motivation for people to not give up and follow their dreams.”
The Team Lakay stalwart can inspire a whole lot more when he puts the country on his shoulders against his Australian challenger in possibly the biggest battle for the organization in the year.
“It’s always been a joy to represent my country in front of my hometown, it’s also a great story because it’s champion vs champion,” Folayang continued while saying that he’s not only representing the country, he’s also representing the whole division as well.
“It will give me a lot of motivation because someone’s coming into my division. As much as possible, I am not only defending my name, but the whole division as well because I’m the champion here.”