Franklin on Folayang possibly dethroning Aoki: 'Great for business'
MANILA, Philippines – With Shinya Aoki being close to running out of options in ONE Championship's lightweight division, company vice president Rich Franklin sees better opportunities if Eduard Folayang will be able to dethrone the Japanese champion.
Folayang is set to challenge Aoki for the ONE Championship lightweight title in the main event of the "Defending Honor" card, which takes place at the 12,000-capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on November 11.
Since Aoki joined the Singapore-based mixed martial arts (MMA) organization in 2012, the 33-year-old Japanese sensation has toppled the best fighters that the promotion's weight class has to offer, including Arnaud Lepont, Kotetsu Boku, Kamal Shalorus, and Koji Ando.
From a matchmaking perspective, Franklin believes that if Folayang gets his hand raised against Aoki, it will benefit ONE Championship in terms of creating new match-ups.
"I think it will be great for business," Franklin told Rappler. "So in the event that Folayang beats Shinya, that would be good for business."
Franklin, who was once a highly-decorated MMA competitor and a world champion in the sport, also stressed the Philippine MMA industry will get a fair share if Folayang brings home the gold-plated strap around his waist.
"It will be great for business if Folayang beats Shinya. The Philippines is a strong market for us. We have a lot of fighters and support from here," he said.
Although the future looks bright for Folayang as the lightweight titleholder, with potential clashes with Ariel Sexton and Lowen Tynanes down the road, the 32-year-old Baguio City native has his hands full against Aoki.
Aoki has been widely regarded as the most dominant lightweight in Asia for the better part of the last decade as he had 46 professional matches and strutted his wares in various MMA leagues such as ONE Championship, DREAM, Bellator, Strikeforce, and Shooto.
Being a champion is synonymous to Aoki's name as he has a long list of accolades in both MMA and submission wrestling.
Franklin suggested that Folayang avoid entering Aoki's submission wheelhouse and focus on exploiting his Japanese foe in the stand-up department. (READ: How Eduard Folayang can beat ONE FC champ Shinya Aoki)
"Eduard [now] has a very competent ground game, but we're talking about Shinya Aoki. It would be in his best interest to keep the fight standing," Franklin said. – Rappler.com