Three-time former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the famed Team Lakay is in a peculiar position. For the first time in his storied career, Folayang has dropped three in a row, and is in danger of extending that awful run in the face of a legitimate threat in his next fight.
Folayang is scheduled to face promotional newcomer “The Warrior” Zhang Lipeng in the main event of ONE: BATTLEGROUND II, a tape delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore which airs on Friday, 13 August.
Due to recent setbacks to Pieter Buist, Antonio Caruso, and Japanese rival Shinya Aoki, many fans and observers have called on Folayang to retire from the sport. But the 37-year-old believes he still has much left in the tank, and wants to prove doubters wrong.
“I’m focused on my goals. I still have a lot to offer this sport. I want to achieve things that others haven’t. As a martial artist, I want to unleash my full potential because I know I haven’t yet,” Folayang said.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned during this stretch is just to persevere. I needed to understand that the best comes to those who don’t give up on their dreams. I believe in myself. I believe in what I can do, and I wouldn’t be here now if I didn’t.”
Against Zhang, Folayang faces the former The Ultimate Fighter: China winner and a grizzled veteran with just as much big-fight experience as he has. Zhang is also a KLF Champion and has been in the game as long as Folayang.
“This will be a good test for the both of us,” Folayang said.
“We’re both veterans of this sport. We’ve seen it all. For sure, it will be a good fight. We have a lot of similarities in terms of our background. So this fight could come down to a matter of will. Whoever wants it more will win.”
In the co-main event of ONE: BATTLEGROUND II, former ONE Strawweight World Champion and current #5-ranked strawweight mixed martial arts contender Alex “Little Rock” Silva takes on China’s Miao Li Tao.
Despite calls for him to hang up the gloves for good, Folayang truly believes he’s a much better fighter now than he was a year ago. The losses stung, but they also taught him valuable lessons that he plans to apply to his career moving forward.
“I think every experience I’ve been through over the past few years has really helped me to evolve as a fighter. I’ve been through a lot of adversity, and it has molded me into a more capable martial artist, and a better person. I honestly believe I’m a better fighter now,” Folayang said.
“Uncertainty is the beauty of MMA. Anything can happen in that cage, so let’s see what we can do.”