Folayang out to silence doubters in world title fight against Aoki
SINGAPORE – Although many pundits believe Japanese champion Shinya Aoki will have an easy night in his ONE Championship lightweight title defense against Eduard Folayang, the Filipino fighter seeks to prove his doubters wrong.
Both men are set to duke it out in the main event of ONE Championship's "Defending Honor" card, which takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Friday, November 11.
Aoki is widely regarded as the most dominant lightweight in Asia for the better part of the last decade as he has had 46 professional bouts and strutted his wares in various mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions, such as ONE Championship, DREAM, Bellator, Strikeforce, and Shooto.
In addition, being a champion is synonymous with Aoki's name as he has a lengthy list of accolades in both MMA and submission wrestling.
Aoki might be a legend in the sport due to his lethal submission game and his suffocating grappling prowess, but he remains an ordinary MMA competitor in the eyes of Folayang.
Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, Folayang remains optimistic that he can dethrone Aoki and walk out with the ONE Championship lightweight title around his waist.
"Some people think that I cannot beat Aoki, but I believe in myself. This is a great opportunity for me to show them that they are wrong. I can be the one to beat the legend," he said.
The 32-year-old Baguio City native stressed that he is more than prepared to take on Aoki with 3 days left before his 5-round championship clash, but the one thing that still bothers him is solving his Japanese opponent's unorthodox style of fighting.
"Shinya Aoki is a very tough opponent. You can see that he has a lot of experience. He's fought a lot of experienced fighters. He always puts the game in his advantage. That will be a problem that I need to solve. Finding a solution for that is very necessary," he said.
Following the ups and downs that Folayang went through in his illustrious 9-year prizefighting career, he managed to reinvent himself by transitioning from a pure striker to an all-around MMA competitor.
As seen in his last two ONE Championship outings, Folayang displayed on-point sprawls and his ability to sinuously execute sweeps and guards, as well as his sturdy top control on the mat.
"I'm thinking of my own strengths and how I am able to answer those offenses that he will be initiating. I need to have a solution to the techniques he will be throwing at me," Folayang said.
Although he has fine-tuned his grappling arsenal, Folayang does not want to try his luck in Aoki's submission wheelhouse as he looks to dictate the bout's pace in the stand-up trade.
"I want to put the fight in my own advantage. As much as possible, I want to avoid being in his own game. I will find a way for me to put the game in my own advantage. He is very confident that he will be able to finish you when he puts you in his own game," he explained.
"I am not intimidated by Aoki because this is mixed martial arts. I have the opportunity and the chance to put the game on my own," Folayang added.
Folayang sees that he has better chances of winning if Aoki will be compelled to bite the bait in the striking department.
"I will try to strike more rather than to be passive on the ground. When it goes to the ground, I really need to know how to defend myself. I need to be offensive also and stand up and try to make the game on the top. I believe if I can keep this fight standing, I will win the fight." – Rappler.com