Future plans at stake as Folayang looks to beat Aoki anew
MANILA, Philippines—Eduard Folayang knows the importance of fighting, and winning, his trilogy bout against Japanese legend Shinya Aoki.
The two were the stalwarts of ONE Championship’s lightweight division each with their own reigns with the belt in the past, and Folayang knows a win over Aoki in 2021 would mean getting closer to the title picture.
“I did expect a trilogy, but I didn’t expect it to happen this early. Aoki has been on a roll as of late while I admit that I am in the middle of a skid, so while I hoped for this to happen, I didn’t expect it to happen this early,” said Folayang.
The two legends are set for their third bout in ONE on TNT IV on Thursday at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“This is a very important fight for my career, knowing where Aoki is right now in the division. If I could beat him, not only would I win the trilogy, but it could catapult me to another run for the World title.”
Folayang won his first World lightweight championship in November 2016 when he brutalized Aoki in three rounds for the technical knockout win.
Aoki, meanwhile, had the win in their second match putting Folayang to sleep with an arm-triangle choke in the first round to capture the lightweight strap.
“I overlooked just how good Shinya is when he gets the opportunity. The moment he gets his hands locked together, you’re done. That’s one thing I truly overlooked,” said Folayang.
“I also got too casual with my kicks, and that’s what Shinya capitalized on to get me to the ground. Against him, you don’t want to be on the mat, but that’s what happened and that’s what we want to avoid.”
A win for Folayang could net him Aoki’s no.4 spot in the lightweight rankings and probably another shot at the the belt that he once held.
“As much as possible, if there’s an opening for the finish, make no mistake that we’re going for that. That’s the result that we’re hoping to get, but of course, we’re always looking to prepare for different situations because this is a very unpredictable sport,” said Folayang.
“This means a lot. Winning a trilogy against a legend of the sport, someone who’s adored by many people will be a big thing for my legacy. Aside from that, given that Shinya is still in the top five of the division, it will also silence the critics and hopefully push me to another run for the World Title.”
Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.