By Michael Angelo S. Murillo , Senior Reporter
FILIPINO mixed martial arts (MMA) star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang returns to the ONE Championship stage on Friday in what many consider as a “crossroads” fight for him that would dictate the direction of his career from here on.
Mr. Folayang, 36, of Team Lakay of Baguio City will be part of the card of “ONE: Inside The Matrix” at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, taking on Australian Antonio “The Spartan” Caruso in a three-round lightweight battle.
Eyes will be on the former two-time ONE lightweight champion as he shows he still has it amid calls by some for him to call it a career already, more so after losing three of his last four fights.
“For now, I’m not even thinking about how long I have left to compete. It’s not on my mind right now. The only thing I’m focused on is Oct. 30, and my goal. I want to accomplish the mission and take home the victory,” said Mr. Folayang (22-9).
“Critics will always be there, whether you’re doing well or you’re not. I just want to go in there and do my thing. I’ve been in this game a long time, and I know enough not to dwell on what my critics say. I think my performance in this event will speak for itself,” he added.
Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao fully supports his veteran ward, sharing Mr. Folayang has put in the necessary work to make his ONE return after months of absence because of the coronavirus pandemic a success.
“I believe in him (Folayang), and for as long as the fire is still there I believe he can still do it. Physically I feel like we’re 100 percent prepared,” said Mr. Sangiao.
Mr. Folayang last fought in ONE in January here in the country at “ONE: Fire & Fury” where he lost to Pieter Buist of the Netherlands by split decision.
A short-notice replacement opponent, Mr. Buist’s length proved problematic for Mr. Folayang in said fight.
He tried to find ways to better combat his opponent, but in the end, two of three judges saw the bout in favor of Mr. Buist.
In three fights in 2019, meanwhile, Mr. Folayang went 1-2, losing to MMA legends Shinya Aoki of Japan and Eddie Alvarez of the United States early in the year before bouncing back with a technical decision victory over Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu of Mongolia in November.
Against Mr. Caruso (7-1), the Filipino is expecting a no-easy challenge, leaving him more determined to see his cause through.
“As always, my biggest motivations in life and my career are my family, my country, and God. I will continue to fight for those that matter to me most… I’m focused on inspiring more young athletes with my performances, and lifting the spirits of my people in the Philippines. I continue to fight more for my country than for my own personal gain,” he said.
ONE: Inside the Matrix is highlighted by four world title fights, headlined by the middleweight world championship clash between champion Aung La Nsang of Myanmar and challenger Reinier De Rigger of the Netherlands.
Co-headlining is lightweight champion Christian Lee of Singapore versus Moldova’s Iuri Lapicus.
Featherweight champ Martin Nguyen of Vietnam/Australia, meanwhile, clashes with Thanh Lee of Vietnam/United States while women’s strawweight champion Xiong Jing Nan of China tries to defend her belt against Tiffany Yeo of Singapore.
Inside The Matrix will be shown live here over One Sports at 9 p.m. with an encore telecast on Oct. 31 at 11 p.m. over TV5.