Jakarta. Filipino mixed martial arts fighter Eduard Folayang, who is better known as Landslide, is gearing up for a well-deserved shot at beating Shinya Aoki and taking home the ONE Lightweight World Championship belt.
The two are set to battle in the main event of next month’s "ONE: Defending Honor" which will take place on Nov. 11 in Singapore.
Folayang earned a shot at the title with two impressive victories, through unanimous decisions beating Japan’s Tetsuya Yamada and Papua New Guinea’s Adrian Pang, who is better known as the Hunter.
In the two competitions, Folayang impressed by outperforming strong and capable wrestlers Yamada and Pang with a combination of his world-class wushu striking and sharp wrestling.
Aoki will need to defend his championship belt since last successfully defeating fellow Japanese warrior Koji Ando, who is better known as the Commander, in May 2015. This time, it will have been more than a year since he bagged the title.
However, Folayang is confident that he stands a fair chance against his more experienced opponent.
“I am at the peak of my abilities as a fighter. All of the hard work I have put into training has finally started to pay off and I am challenging the great champion, Aoki. It will be an honor to share the cage with him, but I feel I have the skills to pull off an upset,” Folayang said in a statement.
Folayang has consistently been revered as one of the top mixed martial arts fighters in the Philippines for years and is well regarded in local mixed martial arts circles as the poster boy for the industry.
He trains full time in the mountainous area of Baguio in the Philippines led by head coach Mark Sangiao. There, the wushu experts hone their craft day and night, pushing each other to improve their grappling and overall skills inside the cage.
A stark improvement on the ground has been noticeable in Folayang, who also showed great takedown avoidance and defensive wrestling which should work well for him against a grappler at Aoki's level.
Aoki is a legend in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling world as well as in the international mixed martial arts community due to his tremendous skills. The Japanese vet has bagged a record 25 out of 39 total victories by submission. He is widely considered as the best pure grappler in mixed martial arts today.
The Japanese fighter is one of the world’s most decorated mixed martial artists. He is the Dream Lightweight Champion, former Shooto Welterweight Champion and the reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion.
Still, Folayang feels this opportunity is once in a lifetime and he promises not to let it go to waste.
“I will fight for the honor of my country and the people of the Philippines who will be in my corner on fight night,” Folayang said.
After over eight years as a martial artist competing in various promotions, Folayang’s career culminates in an encounter with Aoki.
Aoki, who also holds a black belt in judo, has won multiple grappling tournaments across the globe, but inside the ONE Championship cage, all bets are off. If Folayang is able to do the impossible and defeat Aoki, it will have been a long time coming for the Philippines.