Folayang: Fightingest | Inquirer Sports

Folayang: Fightingest

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 03:44 AM January 08, 2017

Filipino MMA champion Eduard Folayang. PHOTO from ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

Filipino MMA champion Eduard Folayang. PHOTO from ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

Like a speeding locomotive Eduard “Landslide” Folayang runs 100 meters hefting a heavy-duty rubber tire. With his fighter’s build, his pace is spectacularly quick—considering that he is running up a steep incline.

That’s how the mixed martial arts (MMA) pride of Baguio City primes himself up in the mountains before each fight, an extraordinarily intense effort that has propelled him to the top of the lightweight class in the One Championship.


“The hardest part of being an MMA fighter is the training,” says the 32-year-old Folayang, a former high school teacher in Mountain Province. “But if you overcome the difficult preparation, especially the mental aspect of it, you’ll surely be at the top of your game come fight night.”


Tagged as the pre-fight heavy underdog, Folayang became the most-recent toast of Philippine MMA when he snatched the lightweight world championship belt from Japanese legend Shinya Aoki by technical knockout in Singapore two months ago.

By the end of 2016, the country’s wushu silver medalist in the 2006 Doha Asian Games sits on top of the One Championship landscape as its Fighter of the Year.


The face of Baguio’s Team Lakay Wushu, Folayang credits his success to his back-breaking preparation, as well as the passion and support that his MMA stable provides its fighters.

“My training and strategy depend on the type of opponent that I’m going to fight,” he says. “In the case of Aoki, he specializes in ground combat, so I had to find ways to counter his specialty.”

To toughen up on ground combat, the fighter known for his exceptional striking skills temporarily left his wife Genevive, who was five months pregnant with their first child, to train in Manila with Filipino judo icon John Baylon a month before the Aoki showdown.

“Much of my ground training is focused on how to overcome an inferior position,” says Folayang. “I am trained not to panic, as I work on how to get out of a possible trap.”

Indeed, the three-time Southeast Asian Games wushu gold medalist has come a long way. On the way to clinching Fighter of the Year honors, Folayang won all his three fights last year, capped by his second-round dethronement of the fearsome Aoki.

As a teenager in the chilly streets of Baguio, Folayang became fascinated with the ubiquitous kickboxers who fought every Sunday in the city. It also helped that he loved watching classic Bruce Lee films over and over again during his younger years.

At 16, Folayang learned the ropes in wushu and boxing under coach Tony Candelaria. He eventually won a spot on the national wushu team as a sanda (sparring) fighter and won gold medals in the 2003, 2005 and 2011 SEA Games, a silver (2006 Doha) and a bronze (2002 Busan) in the Asian Games and another bronze in the 2005 Hanoi wushu world championships.

With nothing more to prove in wushu, Folayang shifted to MMA in 2007 and made his professional debut in the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC), then the biggest MMA outfit in the country. In his very first fight, he knocked out the hitherto-undefeated welterweight champion Allan Co.

Folayang would defend his title belt four times before absorbing his first defeat, at the hands of Guam’s Jon Tuck, via knockout in just eight seconds in late 2009. A technical knockout defeat to Lowen Tynanes in December 2012 prompted Folayang to call it quits in the URCC with a 12-3 record.

Just when he thought his career was over the hill, the proud Igorot warrior secured a spot in a big fight program of One Championship the following year. Not even a loss to Kamal Shalorus in his debut fight could dampen his spirits, though.

Then victories started piling up for the ferocious striker. Folayang pulled off a pair of unanimous decision wins over Vincent Latooel and Kotetsu Boku but was slowed down by Timofey Nastyukhin, who dealt him an opening-round KO in his next fight.

He improved his MMA record to 17-5 with wins over Tetsuya Yamada, Adrian Pang and, finally, Aoki in a fight nobody thought Folayang could survive. “I came into the championship fight with millions of people expecting me to lose in the first round,” recalls Folayang.

Against one of the best submission artists in the game, the Filipino landed on his back with a thud just 22 seconds into the fight when Aoki brought the fight to the ground. He was taken down thrice right in the first round but managed to squirm his way out each time.

After pulling off a great escape act from a position only a few could wriggle out, he delivered a knee to Aoki’s face and rained down punches to his head to finish off the Japanese.

Folayang is set to defend his belt early this year against a still undetermined foe. Some of the top lightweight contenders include EV Ting, Ariel Sexton and Shalorus, but Folayang says he will be ready for them. “They are all are targeting my title,” he says. “It’s a tough division and I should always be in the best of shapes to keep my belt.”

Back in Baguio with his wife for the holidays, Folayang is waiting for a phone call from One Championship management. Holiday or not, he never stops training. “I still train twice a day to be in top condition,” he says. “It has become even more intense now that I’m the champion.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

In a fast-growing sport that never lacks of excellent multiskilled fighters, Folayang says he intends to remain on top as long as he can until retirement knocks.

TAGS: Baguio City, Eduard Folayang, MMA, One Championship, Shinya Aoki

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our sports news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.