Local mixed martial arts star Eduard Folayang and Martin Nguyen have forged a brotherhood during a trip to the United States not too long ago. The two fighters have developed a bond and the amount of admiration and respect one has for the other is very telling. But both will have to put their friendship aside, albeit for one night, as they battle each other in ONE Championship’s first-ever champion vs. champion match.
After successfully defending his lightweight championship against Ev Ting last May, Folayang puts everything on the line once more as he faces Nguyen, the reigning featherweight titleholder, in the main event of “ONE: Legends of the World” at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, November 10.
In Nguyen, the “Landslide” will have an opponent riding high on a five-match winning streak – his latest victory against the erstwhile undefeated featherweight king Marat “Cobra” Gafurov in Kuala Lumpur to snatch the coveted belt. The “Situ-Asian” is also someone Folayang did not expect to fight, much less the threat to his reign. However, both fighters agreed that their showdown is just business.
“Eduard Folayang is a great champion and embodies the true values of martial arts. I know chances like this are very rare,” quipped Nguyen, who currently totes a 9-1 win-loss professional MMA record. “But for now, he is just another opponent in my eyes. He is here to hurt me and I am there to hurt him. God-willing, we both come out alright.”
Folayang, for his part, stepping inside the cage – may it be against a good friend or a bitter rival, is his chance to test his mettle against a high-caliber opponent.
“Darating talaga ang pagkakataon na makakaharap mo ang hindi mo ine-expect. Ako nga noong binigyan ng title fight, hindi ko na-expect. As a martial artist, it is a journey na kung saan iba-iba ang opponent ang makakaharap mo,” Folayang, one of the prized fighters from the Team Lakay stable, ahead of their cross-divisional face-off, expressed. “’Yung pagkakaibigan, nandiyan lang naman iyan. At the end of the day, you do your part as a martial artist and pagkatapos nandu’n pa rin naman ang respect.”
“Winning this bout is my top priority, to keep this belt on my shoulder. I want to make everyone proud. It is going to be tough, but I know I have the Filipino people’s support behind me,” the 33-year-old former school teacher ended.
Photo credit: ONE Championship