To understand why Eduard Folayang are Ole Laursen are so popular in Singapore you have to go all the way back to 2010. As a senior director Victor Cui persuaded ESPN Star Sports to launch a project called Martial Combat.
Asia's biggest sport's network decided to dip it's toe into the waters of the MMA market in conjunction with Resorts World Sentosa, a multi billion dollar resort and casino in Singapore. The result was 12 shows in the space of six months, with events taking place on back to back week nights.
It is a formula which will probably never be attempted again but it made a few mixed martial artists into stars in Singapore, none more so than Laursen and Folayang. Both won three fights out of three and established big fan followings in the process.
It was no wonder that when Cui left ESPN Star Sports to launch ONE Fighting Championship he called on these two to headline the inaugural event. Not only are they popular but their fights tend to be fast and furious and all the ingredients seemed to be in place for an explosive main event.
An unfortunate training injury put paid to Laursen's participation and Folayang instead found himself facing A Sol Kwon. In a fight of the night performance he battled back from a broken nose in the opening round to seal a unanimous decision win over the tenacious Korean.
That performance won Folayang a few more fans in Singapore and he already has a huge following in the Philippines where he is widely regarded as MMA's answer to Manny Pacquiao. Laursen wasn't so lucky when he headlined ONE FC's second show, getting dropped and submitted by Felipe Enomoto after two rounds of all out action.
Despite this setback the fight with Folayang is one that fans still desperately wanted to see, particularly in Singapore, and today it was confirmed that it would finally be happening at ONE FC 3 in the Singapore Indoor Stadium next month.
It could make for an intense atmosphere because these two fighters seemed to get the biggest cheer out of any at the Martial Combat shows. Both men were born in the Philippines and both men live in the Philippines but Laursen has spent the majority of his life living in Scandinavia and Thailand so it's probable the Filipinos will be supporting Folayang.
Stylistically it should be fun, Laursen came out swinging against Enomoto and is likely to do the same thing this time around. The Japanese fighter exhibited an iron chin in that fight and Folayang, who has a tendency to get tagged, might need to survive a similar onslaught.
Folayang's record is currently 11-1 and he is already being talked about as one of the top lightweights in Asia. Part of his appeal is that his fights are seldom straightforward, he always seems to have to battle back from some sort of adversity and find a way to win.
After Laursen's loss to Enomoto his record fell to 5-3 making this a must win fight. He has struggled with injury problems recently but emerged from that contest relatively unscathed and with both men fully fit ONE FC decided to give the fans the fight they had been so disappointed to be denied last September.
Folayang's Team Lakay team mate Kevin Belingon is also taking on Japanese leg lock specialist Masakuzu Imanari in what looks set to be a defining night for Filipino MMA. For fight fans in Singapore it doesn't get much bigger than this and ONE FC should smash the record they set when just under 7,000 people squeezed into the Indoor Stadium for the first show.