Aspiring Filipino fighters must look up to Eduard Folayang, the man who has been on the ONE Championship roster for a decade. But as a young man he also had role models to inspire him and this month he will be fighting one of them.

When Folayang was just starting out in the sport Yoshihiro Akiyama was already one of Japan’s biggest stars, competing on some historic Pride and K-1 cards. The Japanese fighter would go on to have spells with the UFC and ONE Championship and is still going strong at the age of 45.

Folayang says he is ‘honored’ to be competing against Akiyama,

“It is always an honor to share the circle with legends. It gives me added motivation. Yoshihiro Akiyama is a legend and a veteran of the cage. His name is known throughout the world.”

Losing skid

The Filipino is on a two fight losing skid. He is desperate to get back to winning ways and knows there would be no better way to do it than by beating one of the biggest names in Asian MMA,

“This will be a great fight for me. I’m working hard with the team right now, and I’m definitely up for the challenge. Everyone is gearing up,” said Folayang.

His training partner Joshua Pacio holds the ONE Championship strawweight title and there have also been big wins for Team Lakay’s Jenelyn Olsim and Lito Adiwang in recent weeks.

Fighters from the Baguio based camp have a close bond and Folayang’s confidence has been boosted by the success his friends and team mates have enjoyed this year,

“Our victories in the first half of the year have boosted our morale. I, myself, have been inspired by my team’s victories. With our hard work, and discipline, and by the grace of God, 2021 will be a good year for Team Lakay.”

Important battle

Having lost four out of his last five fights Folayang knows that his longevity is in question. But he needs to look no further than next week’s opponent to see proof that a fighter can continue to compete well into their 40s.

He has no intention of retiring just yet but Folayang knows he needs to start winning fights if he wants to continue to enjoy his competitive career,

“This is a very important battle for me. I didn’t get the results that I wanted in my previous fights, and I wasn’t able to perform the way I wanted.”

He has always been renowned for his stamina. Endurance is an asset that can diminish in later years but Folayang promises to be in peak condition come fight night,

“This fight excites me because I know I’m going up against a great fighter. I’m working hard to come into the circle well-conditioned with my mind and body,” said Folayang.

Work ethic

He believes the work ethic which has served him so well in his career will be vital again. Folayang feels the time he has put in lot training will be be more than enough to earn him the victory,

“The key to this fight is going to be the preparation. We’re coming up with a solid game plan. He’s not going to be an easy opponent. But at the same time, I’m confident in my skills. This time, I will aim for a steadfast victory.”