A streaking Eduard Folayang got a chance to reclaim the title he lost next month, one year since he yielded it, at the same place he was knocked out, the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay.
This is after ONE Champion recently announced that Martin Nguyen relinquished the ONE Lightweight Title because of a set of serious knee injury, torn PCL, a grade 2 MCL tear and a strained ACL, and named Folayang as one of the challengers for the vacated crown.
Set to square off with “The Landslide” at ONE: Quest of Champions on November 23 is 23-year-old Singaporean Amir Khan.
Since losing the One Lightweight World Championship to Nguyen at One: Legends of the World in November 10, 2017, Folayang has taken time off before storming back into title contention.
The 34-year-old Landslide downed a pair of undefeated Russian warriors to solidify his spot in this championship tilt.
He took the early part of the year off to clear the cobwebs while spending most of his time away from competition to be with his family.
He returned to the cage on May 18 at Singapore to give 25-year old Russian Kharun “Predator” Atlangeriev, who is undefeated in 11 fights and was making his ONE debut at that time, his first career loss
Two months later, on July 27, he dealt another previously undefeated Russian, Sambo World Champion Aziz Pahrudinov, his first loss at the MOA.
Adding luster to this win is the fact that Pahrudinov is an extremely high-level grappler and explosive striker who has built a reputation as a bonafide finisher, featuring close to a 95% finishing rate in competition whether by submission or by knockout, and was on a 21-bout winning streak before facing Folayang.
His victory over Pahrudinov is the 20th career victory of the “Landslide”. He has six career losses.
Ironically, Folayang could totally exorcise the ghost of what was probably worst loss of his career.
The opportunity to regain the belt couldn’t have come at any other better circumstances as it will be happening on the very same venue he lost the lightweight title along with the chance of avenging the loss of his training partner at Team Lakay. The only missing ingredient on the reclamation attempt is Nguyen.
Just last month, Khan downed Honorio Banario with a rear-naked choke to register his 8th victory in his last nine bouts. He is 11-3 overall throughout his career.
Khan currently holds three promotional records: the most wins with 11, the most finishes with 10, and the most knockouts with eight.
Khan now has the chance to become the youngest lightweight World Champion in the organization’s history and Singapore’s first-ever homegrown mixed martial arts World Champion.
It is expected that whoever will win this bout will be eventually challenged by the winner of the ONE: Kingdom of Heroes bout between Ev Ting and Shinya Aoki.
Meanwhile, ONE Championship left the door open for Nguyen to return to the lightweight division. For his part, Nguyen is looking on the positive side of things, and expressed his determination to defend his ONE Featherweight World Title against all challengers when he is ready to compete again.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS