The night of November 10, 2017 was supposed to be a huge celebration. The SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City was packed to the rafters.
Just over a year ago, November 11, 2016 to be exact, Eduard Folayang did the unthinkable, ending the dominance of Japanese legend Shinya Aoki to win the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Friday night was his second title defense of the belt. A win would have sent the hyped Filipino crowd into a frenzy.
However, one thunderous right hand by Martin Nguyen changed everything. With one swoop, the cheers that enveloped the arena turned to a defeaning silence. Their proud son was just knocked out.
In a statement, Folayang, 33, assured everyone that he is fine after absorbing his sixth loss. A little shaken, very devastated.
“First and foremost, I thank God for His protection. At this point, I assure my followers and the fans of Team Lakay that I am alright and there is nothing to be anxious about. I am still in good physical condition,” the proud son of Baguio City shared.
Gracious in defeat, Folayang is not only grateful to the fans that filled-up the arena but also to Nguyen for the challenge he gave him.
“I take this opportunity to thank my countrymen for their support not only to me but to the entire Team Lakay athletes who competed last November 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena,” the former World Champion expressed.
“My heart is overwhelmed with the outpouring of their encouragement. We hope we can pay it forward.
“I tip my hat off to Martin Nguyen. He did his homework well and came very prepared. Because of this, my hunger for improvement remains unsatiated,” added Folayang.
“This is a big lesson learned.”
ONE Championship’s Chief Executive Officer Chatri Sityodtong was confident after Friday night that Legends of the World was not Folayang’s last dance, saying: “I really believe in Eduard, not only as a martial artist, but also as a human being, so let’s see what he does, but I really believe he has that warrior pride in him, he is a warrior, he’s a Filipino, born and bred real warriors.”
Folayang affirmed this, vowing that he will bounce back stronger.
“I believe challenges inside and outside the cage always bring out the best in us. I assure you that the journey doesn’t end here,” he said.
“Team Lakay and I will exert our best efforts to wave our Philippine flag more triumphantly in 2018.”
To close, the world-class warriors quoted a bible verse that is helping him cope in this hard times.
“Presently, Ecclesiastes 9:11 is my battle cry: ‘I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.'”