This coming Friday, a legend will be made in Manila, Philippines
On 10 November, hometown hero and ONE Lightweight World Champion, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, will defend his belt against ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen. The epic bout takes place as the main event of ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, live from the state-of-the-art Mall Of Asia Arena.
It will be the ONE Championship’s first-ever world champion versus world champion super bout, and both men have a chance to enter the history books. After taking the title from the Japanese legend, Folayang could either tie Shinya Aoki’s record for the most ONE Lightweight World Title defenses, or Nguyen could make history as the organization’s first two-division world champion.
Paths To Greatness
Folayang, the pride of Baguio City, initially took up wushu as a way to escape poverty and build a better life for himself and his family. He excelled at it, as he secured a full scholarship to the University of the Cordilleras and went on to capture 11 major medals, including three golds at the SEA Games.
“Landslide” masterfully transitioned that incredible striking pedigree to the cage in 2006, where he won a Filipino championship in his debut. Then, in September 2011, he headlined ONE’s inaugural show and won.
Despite experiencing mixed results in the years to follow, famed Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao helped fine-tune his skills, and guided him to the ONE Lightweight World Championship, which he claimed from Aoki in November 2016.
Nguyen, on the other hand, had quite a different start to his martial arts journey.
Following a few injuries which forced him to retire from rugby, the Vietnamese-Australian stepped through the doors of KMA Top Team to lose some weight. Within a matter of years, he shed the pounds and more, and developing into a promising martial artist, and decided to test his skills in the cage.
“The Situ-Asian” made his professional debut in July 2012, captured the BRACE Featherweight Championship, and then made a successful ONE debut. Willing to accept any challenge, he then stepped in on incredibly short notice to face Marat Gafurov for the ONE Interim Featherweight World Championship in September 2015, but unfortunately suffered his first loss.
Not satisfied with his lackluster 41-second defeat, Nguyen returned with a vengeance. He earned four first-round stoppages over quality opposition, including Li Kai Wen, Christian Lee and Kazunori Yokota to earn a rematch against Gafurov last August.
This time, the bout lasted to the second round, where Nguyen knocked Gafurov out to claim the ONE Featherweight World Championship, handing the Russian his first-ever loss.
After Folayang captured the ONE Lightweight World Championship from Aoki, he made his first title defense in Manila this past April against Ev Ting at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY. Throughout five rounds, “Landslide” bested his Malaysian opposition and scored a unanimous decision victory.
Folayang was then expected to headline the organization’s November spectacle in Manila, and feature in a main event worthy of the Mall Of Asia Arena. Enter Nguyen, who once again showed he was up for any challenge.
While there are several talented lightweights vying for a world title shot, there is nothing rarer and more exciting than two world champions in their prime battling in the cage. What’s more, Folayang and Nguyen are fast friends, having spent time together during a ONE Championship promotional trip to the United States.
However, the two are willing to put their friendship aside in a true display of martial arts spirit, and see who the better martial artist is. Without a doubt, the fans have been treated to a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
Roadmap To Victory
Competing in front of a hometown crowd in his preferred weight class, Folayang will look to use his size and strength to wear down Nguyen. Also, the patient Filipino has been working on his boxing, and is constantly adding new weapons to his arsenal, so expect “Landslide” to exploit any opening — be it on the feet or on the ground — in an effort to get the win.
As for Nguyen, he wants to take advantage of his speed, and believes he is more dynamic than the non-stop juggernaut that is Folayang. He also feels he can out-grapple the lightweight world champion, and make better use of his submission prowess. Expect “The Situ-Asian” to test the Filipino out in all areas of the game, while patiently waiting to throw his trademark, match-ending overhand right.
Rich Franklin, Martial Arts Legend And Former Middleweight World Champion
“Though this is ONE’s inaugural world champion versus world champion match, that is not why I am excited to watch. It is the men competing which signifies the significance of this competition.
“Folayang overcame a Japanese legend to earn his title. After losing in the first round, Nguyen defeated an unbeaten world champion in a rematch. These two competitors are warriors, friends, and true champions. That is what makes this one of the most important matches in ONE’s history.
“Folayang brings a much more unorthodox style to the arena, but that is neither an advantage or disadvantage. Both of these men stay composed and patient in the ring. This match will come down to who is able to impose their will on the other.”
Ev Ting, Former ONE Lightweight World Title Challenger
“Folayang has size, power, and home crowd advantage. However, Nguyen is smaller, but very well-rounded and full of tricks. I am sure he will do his gym KMA Top Team and SSC (Saigon Sports Club) proud.
“The keys to victory for Folayang are to stay passively aggressive, but effective enough to score and pull ahead. Nguyen will need to peak his conditioning and arsenal to take down, and finish, Folayang.
“I am currently on the fence as to who will win, but would love to see a finish in the early rounds. Regardless, I will have the winner on my radar.”
Mitch Chilson, Former ONE Athlete And Current Broadcast Commentator
“Folayang is dynamic striker. He is hard to figure out on the feet, and he is constantly moving back and forth, and side to side. He sets up his spinning attacks well, so they seem to come out of nowhere. His wrestling is always improving, he has good submission defense, and always has the gas tank to get back up to his feet. Plus, his cage control is world-class.
“Nguyen has only needed one weapon to capture the ONE Featherweight World Championship. His right hand can end your night. He times it perfectly, and can hit you at different angles. However, standing with the Lightweight World Champion has proven to be a bad idea. Can Nguyen outwork Folayang on the feet, or will he show us more weapons like takedowns and submissions?
“Folayang has a good chin and can take a shot, but Nguyen has never needed a full five rounds, so it will be interesting to see how he will fare.”
Manila | 10 November | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends17