IF there’s anyone who knows Eduard Folayang the most in the fight game, it’s his head coach in Mark Sangiao.
From their days as Wushu practitioners to forming the now highly touted Team Lakay in Baguio, the power pair has been through a lot in more than a decade long of partnership, experiencing the highs of victory and going through the agonies of defeat.
Folayang, 33, is now at the crossroads of his career after getting knocked-out by Martin Nguyen last November to drop the ONE lightweight title but Sangiao isn’t worried at all about the state of mind of probably the Philippines’ most decorated homegrown MMA fighter.
“Habang andyan pa yung fire, pwede pa. Hanggang masipag pa siya, hanggang gusto pa niya maglaro, andyan pa rin yan. Makikita natin yan kung pababa na ang laro pero ang tingin ko kay Eduard, andyan pa rin,” said Sangiao.
“Hungry pa rin siya. Malayo pa ang tatakbuhin ng career niya,” he added.
The 18-6 Folayang is now on his road to redemption as he’s set to face undefeated Russian prospect in Kharun Atlangeriev (11-0) on Friday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
What sets Folayang apart from all of the fighters that he’s faced and handled is his mindset. For years, Folayang has suffered devastating blows, from a knockout loss to Timofey Nastyukhen, to having a stretch of three losses in four matches. The Wushu Sanda practitioner has been counted out many times before.
But Sangiao has seen Folayang rise above all of it and he’s expecting nothing less from the soft-spoken hero out of Baguio city.
“Ayun yung lagi kong sinasabi noon na isa sa mga katangian ni Eduard, yung mental toughness niya. Siya yung may pinakamalakas na pag-iisip na mag-bounce back yan. Ilang beses na natin nakikita kay Eduard yun,” Sangiao continued, while adding that it’s been that way for Folayang back when they were amateurs and competing in Wushu competitions.
“Hindi lang sa pro yun. Pati sa amateur. Nakasabay ko yan sa amateur, ganyan din, first na competition namin nakuwa lang niya bronze pero nakapagbounce back siya. Yun yung kinukuha niyang motivation. Naging champion siya at natalo siya, yan yung pinapakita niya na katangian niya. As a coach, yun ang lamang niya sa lahat, yung mental toughness.”
With all factors considered and a good training camp for this match, Sangiao is confident that Folayang is on track to return to his winning ways in the place where he became a world champion.
“Excited na. Napaghandaan namin ng husto. Malakas ang pakiramdam natin na mananalo si Eduard.”