Lipeng respects Folayang but thinks he’s the ‘better’ fighter

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Chinese mixed martial arts veteran and ONE Championship debutant “The Warrior” Zhang Lipeng is happy and honored to fight against  multiple-time former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang but thinks he is the better fighter.

Zhang is facing the “Landslide” at ONE: BATTLEGROUND II, a tape-delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore which airs on Friday, August 13.

“When I first heard that I would face Folayang, I felt very happy, felt very honored. He’s a veteran in this game. And I’m fully prepared for him. I know he’s a tough guy with a tough style. He has a Sanda background and I’m fully prepared for this guy.”, he said.

“I’ve been watching him fight for a long time. I have to say this without any disrespect, I think I’m better at grappling, striking game, BJJ, everywhere. I think I’m a more technical fighter than him,” he added.

Zhang has high hopes in joining the world’s largest martial arts organization. The 31-year-old former TUF: China winner will be making his debut in this fight.

“I’m very happy to join ONE Championship,” Zhang told ONE Championship during the virtual media day. “I always [have thought] that ONE is the best promotion in the combat sports world. If I want to try to prove that I am the best in China, the best in my division, I have to join a promotion as high level as ONE Championship and compete with all the highest level fighters.”

Zhang was last seen in action in September of 2019, winning a submission against Mohammad Naeemi at a KLF event. Since then, the Chinese fighter has put a pause on his career due to several factors. Now, he’s ready to climb back into the cage and resume his climb to the top.

“The Warrior” doesn’t believe his time away has taken any edge off his game. The 31-year-old fully expects to pick up right where he left off.

“I haven’t stopped training for a day over the last two years. So I don’t think my conditioning or my fighting skills have lost anything. [The layoff] doesn’t affect me a lot,” Zhang said.

He, however, he has to get past Folayang, one of the most celebrated veterans in the promotion in order to reach the upper echelon of a stacked ONE lightweight division.

If and when he defeats Folayang, Zhang already has his eyes set on challenging another veteran of the sport, and another former ONE World Champion.

“I would say Shinya Aoki. I have actually been a fan of his for a long time and I have been watching him fight for a very long time in ONE Championship. It’s my honor and my dream to fight with him one day in ONE Championship,” Zhang said.

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.

By Armando M. Bolislis

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