December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Eduard Folayang defends ONE lightweight title against Malaysian Ting

FILIPINO mixed martial arts fighter Eduard “Landslide” Folayang gets his first test as champion as he defends his ONE Championship lightweight title today against Malaysian challenger Ev “E.T.” Ting.

Dubbed “ONE: Kings of Destiny,” happening at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City beginning at 6 p.m., the 10th foray of Asia’s biggest MMA organization in the country will see the Baguio native Folayang stake the belt he took from erstwhile champion Shinya Aoki of Japan last November.

Team Lakay’s Folayang (17-5) is currently riding a three-fight winning streak and said he will give his all so the hometown fans will have something to cheer about come fight night, which incidentally marks the first time that he is headlining a ONE fight card in the country.

“It’s my first time to be in the main event of ONE Championship’s card in the Philippines. I know that it’s a big responsibility, but I am humbled and privileged to be in this position. It’s going to be awesome. I love my country, and I love the Filipino people and all the MMA fans. I can’t wait to get back in there and defend our home turf. By the grace of God, I will emerge victorious,” said 33-year-old Folayang.

“I know the stakes. I know what’s riding on this fight. Ev Ting is coming for my belt. He’s coming to take what I’ve worked so hard for my entire career. There is no way I’m just going to let him take it. It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure,” added the Filipino fighter as he described the mind-set he has entering his title fight against Mr. Ting (13-3), winner of his last four fights.

Having spent most of his MMA career in lightweight, local fight analyst Nissi Icasiano is high on Mr. Folayang retaining his ONE Championship belt.

“Honestly, I believe that Eduard Folayang has a strong chance to keep the lightweight world title around his waist due to the fact that the Filipino mixed martial arts superstar has been a lightweight for the most part of a 10-year prizefighting career,” said Mr. Icasiano when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on the headlining fight today.

“So far, Ev Ting had two fights at lightweight. The first one was against a natural featherweight in Rob Lisita. The second was against a natural lightweight in Kamal Shalorus. The Malaysian-Kiwi combatant shares many similarities with Folayang, including being very comfortable on the ground, standing or in the clinch. However, his explosiveness as a featherweight has yet to translate now that he is competing as a lightweight. Especially in the Kamal Shalorus fight, he got dazed and confused a couple of times with a straight hand from a highly regarded wrestler,” he added.

Mr. Icasiano also underscored the advantage that Mr. Folayang has over Mr. Ting in height, reach and power.

“Let us all consider the size. Eduard is the taller man. He is taller than Ev Ting by two inches. We will also consider the reach of Folayang. Although Ev Ting is a bit more aggressive offensively, Folayang is a much more unorthodox striker. He can throw strikes in different angles. Plus, we should look at the power in his packed punches and kicks. With Ev Ting’s fight against Kamal Shalorus as an example, I don’t think he can handle that kind of power coming from a ferocious striker like Folayang,” he said.

But the fight analyst is not completely counting out the Malaysian challenger altogether even against a highly improved fighter like Mr. Folayang, believing that Mr. Ting is still a serious opponent and should not be overlooked as is.

“It won’t be a surprise if Ev Ting will scrap on the ground, but Folayang managed to reinvent himself by transitioning from a pure striker to an all-around MMA fighter. As seen in his last three ONE Championship outings, Folayang displayed on-point sprawls and his ability to sinuously execute sweeps and guards, as well as his sturdy top control on the mat. In his last bout, he defeated one of the best submission wizards in the world in Shinya Aoki. There is a possibility that Eduard can finish this in round 3 or 4 via knockout. I don’t really think that Ev Ting should be in this weight class. Is he still a threat? Yes, of course, especially Ev Ting’s head kick,” Mr. Icasiano said.

Also featured in the ONE Manila event are Filipinos Kevin Belingon, Honorio Banario, Danny Kingad, Eugene Toquero, Gina Iniong and Robin Catalan against separate foes.

ONE: Kings of Destiny will be aired live simultaneously over S+A and S+A HD starting at 8:30 p.m.