MANILA, Philippines – Filipino fighter Eduard “Landslide” Folayang expects it to be even tougher for him to defend the ONE Championship lightweight title than it was for him to win it 5 months ago.
Folayang puts his coveted gold-plated strap on the line against Malaysian-Kiwi sensation Ev “ET” Ting in the main event of ONE Championship’s “Kings of Destiny” card, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Friday, April 21.
Since pulling off an upset victory over Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Shinya Aoki to become a world champion in the sport last November, Folayang has been thrust into the limelight.
Even while basking in the glory of being an MMA world champion, Folayang stressed the importance of maintaining a hungry mindset as what he has done as a challenger.
“A lot of fighters lose their edge when they start to think that it’s easy being champion. Keeping the belt is a lot harder than winning it the first time around,” he said during the media conference for “Kings of Destiny” at City of Dreams Manila in Parañaque City on Tuesday, April 18.
“I won’t take any opponent for granted, especially not someone as talented as Ev Ting. I still have much to do in the sport of mixed martial arts. I’m going to kick off the next chapter of my career against one of the top contenders,” Folayang added.
He also admitted that he feels Ting’s burning desire to have his hand raised in their scheduled 5-round lightweight encounter. But if Ting is hungry for that win, Folayang wants to prove he is famished.
“If he has the hunger to get the belt, then I also have the hunger to keep it,” he said. “This fight is very important not only for me but for my family and our country.”
Folayang, a licensed teacher in his hometown of Baguio City, is looking forward to teaching Ting the difficulties of being a champion when they collide inside the ONE Championship cage on Friday.
“I’ll teach him how hard it is to be a champion. He has to pass my test if he wants to be a champion,” he asserted.
The 33-year-old MMA veteran realizes that to be successful against Ting, he has to make sure he comes in at his absolute best.
“I know the stakes. I know what’s riding on this fight. Ev Ting is coming for my belt. He’s coming to take what I’ve worked so hard for my entire career. There is no way I’m just going to let him take it. It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure,” Folayang said.
With Ting recently making the move up from featherweight to lightweight, Folayang believes that his extra experience in the weight class will give him the advantage.
“My main advantage over him is my experience as a fighter, especially in the lightweight division. We all know that Ev Ting came from the featherweight division, so I’m more used to fighting in this division,” he said.
Although he may have a friendly and boyish demeanor outside the battleground, Folayang made it clear that inside the cage, it is all business.
“When I enter that cage, my entire mindset changes. The time for being nice and playing games is over. Once that cage door closes, my focus shifts entirely to battle. It’s different because it’s just like taking final exams. If I don’t take it seriously, I myself will fail. Only one guy gets to walk out of the cage a winner, so I make sure that guy is me,” he concluded. – Rappler.com
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