SINGAPORE — Eduard 'Landslide' Folayang fought the perfect fight and got himself the perfect gift for his upcoming birthday in winning the ONE lightweight title on Friday night here.
But for the new ONE champion, the feat was fate at work as he turns 32 on November 22.
“Tignan niyo [date] November 11,” Folayang told Philippine-based reporters after his three-round win over Shiaya Aoki. “Kapag i-plus niyo, 22. So talagang parang tinadhana talaga ng Panginoon na makuha ‘yung belt."
Folayang landed a vicious knee right into Aoki’s jaw to jolt the Japanese legend before finishing him off with a fury of punches that forced the referee to stop the fight and give the Baguio City native the win.
As it turned out, that maneuver was what his coaches at Team Lakay has been studying all along, saying that the differences in their fighting stance actually helped Folayang set up the killer move.
“Nakita ko na magkaiba kami ng fighting stance. Pasok na pasok ‘yung right knee ko sa kanya. Magfe-fake ako, alam ko na susugod siya. May moment pa na nabaligtad ako nung nag-flying knee ako. Pero nung third round, nung nakuha ko na ‘yung tamang position at timing, dun ko siya napuruhan,” Folayang said.
Folayang had stayed patient despite suffering tough losses in the past, and, as it turned out, it was that same patience that worked to his advantage against Aoki.
The Japanese grappling specialist appeared to be in control of the fight as he forced Folayang to the ground just seconds into the match.
But Folayang said he wasn’t worried, especially after seeing Aoki show signs of tiring out.
“Malakas siya nung first round, pero nung nakita ko na nag-violet na ‘yung lips niya, kailangan ko lang i-maintain ‘yung hangin. Alam kong magkakaroon ng pagkakataon para matapos ‘yung laban,” he said, unintimidated by his foe's antics.
“Nung nakita ko na napapagod na siya, nakukuha ko na ‘yung composure ko sa striking. Parang tinuturo pa niya ‘yung paa ko, tumatawa lang ako. ‘Yung second round, maraming tuhod ‘yung pumasok. At that moment, alam ko na mahina na siya,” added Folayang.
Now that the fight is over, Folayang is ready to rest, while he awaits his title defense.
“Mag-rest muna ako. Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga nag-pray sa akin at sumuporta. Kahit underdog tayo, binigyan niyo ako ng boost para mauwi ang belt na ‘to,” said Folayang.