Eduard Folayang Looking to Close Chapter in Shinya Aoki Rivalry with ‘Conclusive’ Victory

Multiple-time former ONE Lightweight World Champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki are both looking to end their rivalry decisively when the two meet in the Circle this week.

Folayang and the #4-ranked lightweight contender, Aoki, are set to lock horns at “ONE on TNT IV,” which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore this Wednesday, April 28 (Thursday, April 29 in Asia).

It’s the all-important rubber match that seeks to settle the score between the two elite lightweights once and for all.

“This is a very important battle for me. If I can beat him here, it will catapult me up the rankings. He’s number four in the top five, and I’m looking to take his spot. This is not an easy fight, but a victory will bring me a step closer to the belt,” said Folayang.

“I didn’t get the results that I wanted and the performance I wanted to give in my previous fights, so I will aim for a steadfast victory in this one.”

Folayang and Aoki first met in 2016, with the Filipino veteran taking home his signature victory to capture the lightweight belt in his first reign as champion. They met again in 2019, with Aoki exacting revenge to reclaim the title. Now they meet a third time to effectively end their series.

Folayang, however, has lost four of his last five bouts, while Aoki has looked exceptional as of late and is currently riding a three-fight win streak.

“Landslide” isn’t putting too much stock into where they both are at in their careers. He says they are so familiar with each other having fought twice already, that it will be a fun fight regardless.

“I have so much respect for all athletes in this sport. We’re all competing at the highest level. I know preparation is the biggest factor here. As a martial artist, I have nothing but respect for him. He’s a strong grappler, and his weakness is in striking, but it hasn’t been a factor. He’s still dangerous all around,” said Folayang.

“After having two fights with him, we know each other very well in the Circle. I’ve prepared both mentally and physically for this challenge. Everyone has their own strengths, and I’ve prepared well with my team on how to handle him. He’s one of the best fighters in the game and has a lot of experience.”

Folayang fully expects Aoki to enter the Circle with the same game plan, and that’s to move into close quarters for a takedown, and bring matters to the canvas where the Japanese fighter enjoys a grappling advantage.

But unlike their last fight, Folayang believes he has made the right preparations this time around to secure the win.

“I think he will have the same game plan as always, the same as in our first two encounters. He’s going to try to take me down, but I will be ready. I prepared hard with my team. I’m a positive person and I’m intently targeting a clean and conclusive victory,” said Folayang.

“ONE on TNT IV” is the fourth and final installment of the “ONE on TNT” event series for the month of April. In the main event of “ONE on TNT IV,” reigning ONE Light Heavyweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang will defend his title against reigning ONE Middleweight World Champion “The Dutch Knight” Reinier De Ridder.

Also on the card, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez makes a quick turnaround and returns to the Circle.

Author: Robert Belen

Robert Belen is a long-time combat sports writer for dSource Boxing. An avid sports fan, he knows no fear nor partiality in his reporting. If you have a problem with him, tell it to his face. (We bid you not.) You can follow him on Twitter @robertbelen

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