MANILA, Philippines – Eduard Folayang will finally have his shot at Shinya Aoki’s ONE Championship lightweight title as the renowned Filipino fighter is set to square off with the Japanese champion in the main event of the “Defending Honor” card on November 11.
Earning a world title opportunity in ONE Championship has been elusive for the 32-year-old Baguio City native as he has consistently fallen short in championship eliminators.
Following an impressive victory over Felipe Enomoto in August 2012, Folayang was one of the logical options to vie for the weight class’ top prize, but a string of losses pushed him back in the rankings.
Folayang bowed to Lowen Tynanes by way of first-round stoppage in Universal Reality Combat Championship’s 10th anniversary card in December 2012, while he was outwrestled by Iranian grappler Kamal Shalorus in May 2013.
“Landslide” managed to redeem himself by compiling two straight wins, including a dominant win over former titleholder Kotetsu Boku in May 2014.
While he was on a roll, another major setback hit Folayang as he was brutally knocked out by Russian prospect Timofey Nastyukhin in their December 2014 lightweight tussle.
Despite the rollercoaster ride in his 9-year prizefighting career, there was no denying Folayang of a date with Aoki. He outclassed Japanese veteran Tetsuya Yamada in 3 rounds last January and then survived a grueling encounter with Australia’s Adrian Pang in August.
Folayang (16-5) enters the 5-round lightweight title tilt against Aoki on a two-fight winning streak.
In the other corner, Aoki (39-6, 1 NC) has been widely regarded as the most dominant lightweight in Asia for the better part of a decade as he had 46 professional bouts and strutted his wares in various mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions such as ONE Championship, DREAM, Bellator, Strikeforce, and Shooto.
The 33-year-old Japanese fighter has a long list of accolades in both MMA and submission wrestling.
Aoki, who infamously turned down an offer from the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2013, was last seen in action when he pulverized MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba under the Rizin Fighting Federation banner in December 2015.
“Tobikan Judan” has not defended the ONE Championship lightweight belt since routing fellow Japanese combatant Koji Ando via unanimous decision in May 2015.
“ONE: Defending Honor” takes place at the 12,000-capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium. – Rappler.com
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