Team Lakay veteran Eduard Folayang and seasoned Japanese fighter Shinya Aoki are set to settle their unfinished business through a trilogy when they clash in the Circle anew in ONE on TNT IV at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on April 29.
Though completely unexpected, Folayang “as a warrior” bared that he is always prepared in such circumstances and saw the situation as an opportunity for a greater comeback.
“This is a very unpredictable sport as in our previous bouts, Aoki did well while I’m in a bad performance streak but we always learned from the past,” Folayang told the Manila Bulletin in an online exchange.
“My expectation is to give all my best with no regrets. I will approach this fight positively and as much as possible be precise in the way I execute my game.”
Japanese-Korean icon Yoshihiro Akiyama, Folayang’s initial opponent, pulled out of the bout due to injuries while Sage Northcutt, Aoki’s original matchup, was also forced to withdraw due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Folayang and Aoki first met in the Circle in 2016 when the Igorot warrior scored a third-round technical knockout win to capture the lightweight belt.
The 36-year-old Folayang had his first successful title defense against Ev Ting of Malaysia and New Zealand in 2017 before Martin Nguyen dethroned the Filipino mixed martial arts icon the same year.
It was in 2018 when Folayang rode a three-match win streak capped off by retaking the vacant belt against Amir Khan.
In the Folayang-Aoki rematch, their first encounter in more than two years, the Japanese grappling specialist exacted revenge on the Filipino via first-round arm-triangle choke submission for the title.