By Jerome Lagunzad
If he intends to put himself back in the title picture, former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang has nothing else to do but to get the job done against Russian newcomer Aziz Pahrudinov next Friday in ONE: Reign of Kings at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Folayang, 34, should make the most of the momentum he gained in a unanimous decision win over Kharun Atlangeriev last May as he continues his road to redemption after losing the coveted lightweight belt to Martin Nguyen via a stunning second-round TKO loss in Manila last November.
“I felt good in my last bout, honestly. Although, of course, I always feel like I could have done just a little better,” said Folayang, the pride of Baguio City who has won 19 of his 25 MMA matches so far.
“I am always looking at how I can get better in every aspect. I feel like my wrestling and my grappling has reached a new level over the past few months. There’s a lot of room to improve, but little by little, I’ll get to where I need to be.
“Lightweight is one of the deepest divisions in the organization, and there are so many great guys all wanting to get to the top. I have to keep winning so I can stay in the mix.”
In Pahrudinov, a sambo world champion, Folayang will take on his third Russian rival since he suffered a TKO loss via a flying knee and soccer kicks against Timofey Nastyukhin in 2014 before he went on remarkable rise to the top of the heap.
“I have to beat whoever is in front of me. That is the priority. Right now, it’s Pahrudinov,” he said. “This is going to be a good, exciting fight and I am excited. I will do my best to keep every advantage and win. He doesn’t have many weaknesses, but I would like to test his striking. Let’s see if he can keep up with me on the feet.”