‘Impressive win’ over unbeaten Russian earns Folayang ONE title shot
SINGAPORE—Eduard Folayang needs just one more step to get back to the title conversation, but it won’t be cakewalk for the former ONE lightweight champion.
Chatri Sityodtong, ONE Championship’s Chariman and CEO, said it’s imperative for Folayang to win his match against undefeated Russian wrestler Kharun Atlangeriev (11-0) for him to get a shot at the lightweight belt.
“Eduard needs to be at his best and if he’s able to pull out a win impressively, then he’s back,” said Sityodtong said Monday during the press conference for the Unstoppable Dreams card at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.
“But if he loses, obviously it’s a downward skid for him. This is a high-stakes fight for Eduard and his career hangs in the balance.”
Folayang’s (18-6) reign as the ONE lightweight champion lasted for 364 days after he beat he beat Shinya Aoki for the gold on Nov. 11, 2016 at Singapore Indoor Stadium, the same venue for his return fight on May 18.
The legendary Team Lakay member needed just one more day to achieve a yearlong reign but current champion Martin Nguyen denied that feat when he knocked out Folayang in the second round to unify the lightweight and featherweight belts.
And as if fate intervened, Folayang lost the title on his home country of the Philippines at Mall of Asia Arena.
Sityodtong, however, has high hopes for Folayang after the Filipino stayed off the cage for almost half a year since the stunning loss to Nguyen.
“Eduard has had a long rest, so it’d be great for him and when I spoke to him he’s hungrier than ever,” said Sityodtong of the 34-year-old fighter. “He’s like a 21-year-old Eduard, he’s hungry and he’s worked so hard.”