The reaction to the news that Eduard Folayang would be taking on John Wayne Parr in a Muay Thai fight has been mixed. Some fans feel that the Filipino’s lack of experience in the sport makes this a mismatch.
There are parallels between the career trajectory of Folayang and that of Conor McGregor. Both are wildly popular and both have shown a willingness to step out of their comfort zone and compete in an unfamiliar ruleset against a decorated champion.
McGregor hasn’t won a fight since 2020 while Folayang’s last win was in 2019. But both men are still very high on the list of fighters to call when their promoter has a big card coming up.
While McGregor hasn’t always made fans with his behaviour outside of the cage Folayang is a fantastic ambassador for the sport of MMA. He is a softly spoken, humble family man whose life revolves around training and competing.
By contrast McGregor comes across as brash and arrogant. It is a perception the Irishman has carefully cultivated but the persona has got him into legal trouble on numerous occasions.
It has also earned him a lot of money. He probably feels that the five days of community service he was sentenced to for attacking Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s bus with a dolly is a small price to pay for promoting a card which generated 2.4 million pay per view buys.
But what really unites McGregor and Folayang is the willingness to step up and try a new sport with the odds stacked against them. The Irishman took on one of the best boxers of all time on his pro debut, he had never even competed as an amateur before the fight with Floyd Mayweather.
Folayang is facing one of the most successful Muay Thai fighters of all time despite never having actually fought or trained in the sport. His experience representing the Philippines at wushu will hardly prepare him for the challenge posed by living legend John Wayne Parr.
But while you won’t see Folayang staging any public attacks in the buildup to the fight he will be hoping to go one better than McGregor. Mayweather was 40 when that fight took place, but JWP celebrates his 45th birthday later this year.
Mayweather was also undefeated. John Wayne Parr has lost his last three, the Australian hasn’t won a Muay Thai fight since 2017 although he does have a more recent win from a boxing match.
So could Folayang cause the Australian some problems with his spinning strikes which, while technically permitted in Muay Thai are rarely utilized? McGregor never had Mayweather in any sort of trouble, the suspicion is that the boxer deliberately dragged the fight out for ten rounds.
John Wayne Parr has stated that this will be his retirement fight. He will be determined to finish his career on a high and would love nothing more than to win the fight with a stoppage.
So the ingredients are in place for a matchup that should be much more entertaining than the one between Mayweather and McGregor was. It won’t be the headliner at ONE: ‘X’ next month but it might just steal the show.
On the face of it McGregor and Folayang don’t have too much in common. Both are very different personalities but by accepting this fight the Filipino is following in the footsteps of the Irishman.