Folayang quiets talk on calling it a career
LA TRINIDAD—Eduard Folayang, Team Lakay’s skipper and its most decorated member, suffered two swift setbacks this year.
And the veteran Folayang is aware that those two losses—against Shinya Aoki in March that cost him the ONE lightweight title, and versus Eddie Alvarez—has raised doubts and brought up suggestions that he’s over the hill.
“There are bashers who are saying I must retire,” he told the Inquirer in an interview in the famed fight stable’s newly-opened facility here. “It has not crossed my mind.”
“I can say that I’m only retiring from [MMA] when I’m really gone,” he continued, adding that there are “still a lot of things to do and give to the sport.”
If anything, Folayang, a two-time champion in the Asian promotion and a former national athlete, said that the pair of defeats has given him “priceless lessons,” one that, at 34, he could use moving forward.
“Against world-class competitors, we were able to gauge where we really are at in terms of skills—something we can’t really measure if we’re just watching, observing them,” he said in Filipino.
“It’s an entirely different thing actually fighting against them,” Folayang added.
The soft-spoken athlete, long regarded the face of Philippine MMA, fell to Aoki in ONE’s inaugural card in Tokyo and then was forced to submit by Alvarez, a highly-touted talent from the UFC in August in Manila.
“You give your best and things don’t go your way. It happens,” he said. “It’s more prevalent in this sport because just a small mistake could spell your doom.”
Folayang said he is keeping an optimistic view. After all, this is not his first rodeo with losing. In November 2017, he was knocked out before a hometown crowd and knocked off his lightweight perch by Martin Nguyen, but chalked up three convincing victories en route to reclaiming the belt.
“This sport is a never-ending journey of discipline and learning,” he said.
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