Eduard Folayang must have had mixed feelings as he watched Kotetsu Boku take out Zorobabel Moreira with a right hand in the third round of their fight at ONE FC: 'Rise of Kings'. The Filipino had been offered a shot at the belt but was forced to postpone it in order to appear at the URCC's tenth anniversary show on December 1st.
As a fighter renowned for getting in wars he must have appreciated the action but at the same time, as Victor Cui strapped the belt around Boku's waste, Folayang could have been forgiven for thinking 'that should have been me'. However he wants to ensure Filipino fans that his time will come and that he missed out on getting the first shot at the belt for a very good reason,
"This next fight is a very important fight in my career because I started fighting in MMA professionally through URCC and this fight we will see how far I have come since my first fight. I feel the same pressure fighting for the URCC that I would fighting for ONE FC, although they have different strategies as promotions."
He will be fighting Hawaii's Lowen Tynanese in the main event at URCC 22, which is taking place at the brand new SM Mall of Asia Arena on December 1st. Folayang is currently in Baguio preparing for that battle but the ONE FC lightweight belt is never far from his thoughts,
"ONE FC told me I am the number one contender and it will be a privilege to get that title shot against Kotetsu Boku. His fight with Moreira was back and forth action and his performance in that fight alone must have gained the respect of all those people who didn't know about him before"
ONE FC's first foray into Filipino territory was the most successful show to date, at least in terms of attendance, and the promotion is certain to return to the Philippines in the first half of 2013. A title fight between Boku and Folayang would be a huge draw and Folayang would love to fight for the belt in front of his home fans,
"Off course, I like to be fighting in my own soil and knowing the Filipino people are watching me is one of my main motivations in this sport. For sure that will be a very exciting fight (between him and Boku) because I know that Boku is a good fighter."
Folayang has always had a reputation for being a fighter who gets hit, more often than not he weathers the storm and somehow finds a way to win but his last fight, against Felipe Enomoto at ONE FC: 'Pride of a Nation', was unusual because he controlled the action from start to finish.
When the scores were announced at the end of the three rounds Folayang's face was uncharacteristically unscathed (see photo) as he executed an intelligent boxing based strategy to perfection. After the fight his coach, Mark Sangiao, told me that his fighter had spent a lot of time with a boxing trainer in preparation for this bout and Folayang admits that he had been working on avoiding damage, as well as dispensing it,
"That was because of my training, my trainers and coach who help me to work on my boxing and this skill is an important part of the sport, that's why we are adding it into our training. At Team Lakay we have started working on a variety of defense as well as offense and it helps a lot, especially in the last fight."
Anyone who has ever witnessed a Team Lakay training session will know that the emphasis is on relentless aggression with fighters taking it in turns to mount five minute non stop onslaughts on either pads or bags. This type of training seems to give them excellent cardio but with the likes of Folayang, Honorio Banario and Kevin Belingon moving towards world title shots they are obviously starting to pay more attention to the defensive side of their game.
Belingon is coming off the biggest win of his career, when he blew away Yusup Saadulaev in less than a round in a fight he was widely expected to lose. Folayang was delight to see his team mate winning in the ONE FC cage for the first time and, with Banario already promised a title shot and Rey Docyogen and Geje Euataquio likely to be leading contenders for the flyweight belt, he hopes that a few ONE FC belts will find their way back to Baguio,
"Winning four belts will be our goal and we have already done it in the URCC, this time we will do our best to do it in the ONE FC. Kevin was 100% stepping in the cage for his last fight and he really dominated, we were all impressed by his performance. This time he showed that he can throw bombs."
A few Filipino fans were unhappy that Folayang and Eric Kelly were denied the opportunity to fight for the belts at ONE FC: 'Rise of Kings'. It was a postponement rather than a cancellation as both will get title shots at the earliest available opportunity and the show coming up on December 1st is an auspicious one for the URCC.
The organization was founded in 2002 and URCC 1 took place on November 23rd of that year. Folayang made his URCC debut in 2007 and went on to win the welterweight belt, which he holds to this day. The same organization gave his Team Lakay team mates Belingon, Banario and Docyogen their big breaks and December 1st will be an important anniversary in the history of Filipino MMA.
Folayang can look forward to fighting Noku for the ONE FC lightweight belt in 2013 but first he has business at hand fighting in front of the fans in Manila who have been following his career since it began.
For more information about URCC 22 visit: www.urccmma.com