Eduard Folayang recalls facing best foe Shinya Aoki

Eduard Folayang recalls facing best foe Shinya Aoki

/ 05:38 PM April 02, 2024

Shinya Aoki celebrates his latest victory over Eduard Folayang

FILE–Shinya Aoki celebrates his latest victory over Eduard Folayang. ONE CHAMPIONSHIP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—It takes two to tango and Eduard Folayang knows exactly who his dance partner is in his legendary career in MMA.

During a press briefing recently, Folayang was asked about who his favorite career opponent is.

Well, the shirt he was wearing at the time basically gave his answer away as he was wearing a Shinya Aoki merchandise that showed his tremendous respect for the Japanese fighter.


READ: ONE: More to go for Eduard Folayang

“I think Shinya’s the guy who really gave me challenges in life, in general. As a Pinoy fighter looking into past until the present, we really lack our stance and ground game. That’s what he had,” said Folayang in Filipino.

“Still, he pushed me to find a way on how I’ll solve the problems he gave me.”

Folayang and Aoki have faced off thrice in their careers. It’s like the two were meant to keep going at each other and every time they did, it brought out the best of each other.


Aoki got the last laugh, though, as he won against the Lions Nation MMA standout in 2021 during ONE on TNT IV.

READ: ONE: Folayang submits to Aoki in 1st round of trilogy bout

In as early as the first round, the Japanese MMA legend caught Folayang in an arm bar that forced the Filipino figure to tap out and give Aoki a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head trilogy.

“He’s one of the greatest fighters that I fought against in my career,” said Folayang with a smile, seemingly recalling their wars of yesteryear.

Shinya Aoki submits Eduard Folayang

Shinya Aoki submits Eduard Folayang in the first round of their third fight in ONE on TNT IV. ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

It’s not surprising to see Folayang crack a smile despite being down 2-1 against his rival. After all, it was against Aoki where he got one of his biggest career wins.

It was against Aoki in 2016 where Folayang got his first taste of the ONE Lightweight Championship.

The Japanese fighter would then retaliate in 2019, when he defeated Folayang via submission which knotted their series to one win a piece.

Their memorable matches made both lightweight combatants’ names intertwined, which is why Folayang holds so much respect for Aoki.

As of writing, there’s no plan in play for a fourth fight between the two—heck, there’s no match in queue for Folayang, but he’s staying ready for the next match that may come his way this year.

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“So far, there’re no names in mind although of course, the rankings of the lightweight division underwent some chance so I think the best option is to see who were previously in the top five and prepare for whoever that would be.”

TAGS: Eduard Folayang, Shinya Aoki

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