ONE: Folayang a massive underdog, but Chatri says don’t count out legend
Eduard Folayang will be entering ONE Championship’s circle this Saturday as a walking testament to both his and the Asian promotion’s longevity.
The Filipino striker, however, is out to play the role of spoiler of a sunset tour when he takes on retiring John Wayne Parr in the finalé of the three-part showpiece at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It’s a part that doesn’t exactly fit Folayang, considering his amiable and unassuming personality on and off the fighting pit. But with the match being peddled as a clash between two legends, the Team Lakay veteran promises to play the role to the hilt.
“Whether I like it or not, the challenge is already here. It’s legend versus legend,” he told the Inquirer.
Folayang will be entering the duel an overwhelming underdog as the clash will be played under the Muay Thai rule set with four-ounce gloves—a specialized contest that heavily favors Parr, a 10-time world champion in the discipline hoping to call it a career with a 100th victory.
Also stacking odds against Folayang is a four-match losing streak that has dragged on as long as this ongoing pandemic.
But it’s not like he is bringing a knife to a gunfight.
The former national athlete is set to flaunt his wushu roots in the tussle—something that has helped him snare three lightweight world championships in the promotion.
Plus, Folayang will be afforded a chance to further live up to his fabled billing. A win will not only give him a sentimental victory in ONE’s 10-year anniversary showpiece, but it will also allow the soft-spoken fighter to deliver a fitting follow-up to his debut with the promotion during its first-ever card also in Singapore.
“Looking back, I’m just glad to be in this position where I get to look at how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown and improved.”
“I think what’s beautiful about time. It also gives you an opportunity to evaluate yourself to how you were at your starting point and know how much more you can go for.”
Chatri Sityodtong, ONE’s founding head honcho who has followed Folayang’s career in the promotion right from the jump, believes that the grizzled veteran will emerge the victor in Saturday’s colossal event.
“I think Eduard’s gonna win,” he told the Inquirer in a separate interview.
“He’s an incredible role model for martial arts. We know his life story, coming from a humble background—his parents being born poor, siblings dying because they can’t afford medical care.
“He’s a symbol of hope and strength for Filipinos that if you apply yourself, you can achieve whatever you can achieve in life,” Sityodtong went on.
But what makes him special is he is a special human being. He has a heart of gold … And I say this all the time: A fight is a moment in time. But a legend is forever. And Eduard is a legend.”
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