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ONE Championship: Folayang shortens Christmas break, prepares for title defense

Eduard Folayang (AP )

A rematch of epic proportions is set to take place when Eduard “Landslide” Folayang defends his ONE Lightweight World Championship against Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki in a rematch at ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan on 31 March.

Folayang and Aoki first met inside the cage at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR in November 2016, with the Filipino dynamo pulling off a stunning upset victory over the Japanese legend.

Branded as a heavy underdog in the first bout, “Landslide” overcame insurmountable odds by executing a perfectly-devised game plan en route to a third-round technical knockout to capture the ONE Lightweight World Title.

Ever since having his hand raised against the man known as the most decorated lightweight in Asian mixed martial arts history, Folayang knew that a second meeting with Aoki is inevitable.

“I knew that I will someday cross paths again with Shinya Aoki ever since our first encounter in 2016. It is an honor to share the cage with him for the second time,” he said.

“Aoki has been on a hot streak ever since losing the ONE Lightweight World Title. I can tell that he is hungry to get the belt back, seeing his past performances against world-class competition.”

Folayang became a two-time lightweight kingpin last November when he defeated Singapore’s Amir Khan via clear-cut unanimous decision for the vacant crown in the co-main event of ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS.

WIth Folayang’s exceptional conquest of Khan nearly a month ago, Team Lakay ultimately capped off the year with four ONE World Champions, which they duly celebrated over the weekend.

The 35-year-old Baguio City native is now putting an end to his honeymoon period with his world title-clinching performance as he looks to start the hard grind as soon as the Yuletide season is over.

“I am already doing light training for my upcoming fight. After Christmas and New Year, the real work begins. I am happy that I won last month, but it’s time to move on and take on the next challenge,” he stated.

Aoki has won three consecutive matches in 2018, including a 57-second submission of Malaysian-Kiwi dynamo Ev “E.T.” Ting, whom Folayang defeated by way of unanimous decision in April 2017.

“Facing someone like Aoki is never easy, but I think I have a good understanding of his style and what he brings to the table,” the Filipino superstar stressed. “I will expect a different Aoki in Japan, and he can expect the same from me.”

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Written by Rafael Bandayrel

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