EUPHORIA quickly turned into dread for newly crowned One lightweight champion Martin Nguyen on the night that he made history as the first-ever two-division titleholder in the organization with a shocking finish on Filipino MMA hero Eduard Folayang Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Shortly after landing that brutal counter right hand that decked Folayang, Nguyen was seen rushing to the Filipino fighter’s side, trying to get the Team Lakay star up, before sitting right beside him and pressing his hand as the electric MOA Arena crowd was reduced to a stunned silence.
“Eduard, I still love you like a brother man. I hope you’re fine and I hope you come back stronger,” an emotional Nguyen said as he addressed his fallen foe in the post-match interview. “I’m still your number one fan.”
Turns out, both fighters share more than mutual respect but also have a strong bond between two classy martial artists.
“We spent a whole week together in L.A., and during that time, his wife just gave birth, a beautiful girl, Yeshua,” said Nguyen.
“When he first came over, I felt the emotional side of his victory against Shinya (Aoki), and also I got to know him better through family. We talked about family a lot, and when you have that emotional connection with someone, it’s very tight.”
It’s not only Nguyen who’s had a bittersweet feeling after the fight, as one of his trainers in Chrysler de Castro also has an emotional connection with Filipinos himself.
As it turns out, de Castro is half Filipino and plotting for Folayang’s downfall, and seeing Folayang lose that way is something that will always hold weight to him.
“I didn’t wanna tell Martin, it’s heartbreaking for myself as well, as a Filipino. Eduard is a hero, when he won that belt, I was watching back in Australia, and then to go against him, it’s tough,” said de Castro as he held back tears in an emotional post-fight press conference.
“But you know, this is my brother right here. I’m a Filipino, I’m a proud Filipino as well. I love this country.”
With the class that Nguyen and his trainers have shown both before and after the fight, it’s safe to say that Folayang couldn’t have lost to a better fighter and a better camp.
But even with the historic victory, Nguyen can’t help but admit feeling down for his vanquished foe and close pal.
“Look, honestly, it really hurt. I never ever, ever want to see someone I like, or someone I know go through that,” Nguyen continued.
“Unfortunately, as I said before the fight, it was putting our friendship aside, it was martial artist versus martial artist, but I just couldn’t help but have that little hard feeling for Eduard when he got knocked out.”