Sports

Eduard Folayang defeats Amir Khan to win World Lightweight title

It has been a long road for the Philippines’ Eduard Folayang. Since surrendering the ONE Lightweight World Title to Martin Nguyen in November 2017, in the same venue of the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, “Landslide” has been a man on a mission in his bid to reclaim what he had lost.

Folayang accomplished his goal on Friday night (Nov 23) in the co-main event of ONE: Conquest of Champions. Standing opposite Singaporean martial arts elite Amir Khan, who trains at the Evolve MMA gym on Far East Square, Folayang gave up nearly 10 years in age to the 24-year-old.

But what Folayang lacked in youth, he more than made up for in experience.

Keeping Khan on the defensive with his flashy spinning back kicks and sharp elbows in the clinch, Folayang was absolutely on point for the entire match. He left no stone unturned in his preparations for the what Folayang refers to as the biggest bout of his career.

The fruits of the Filipino’s hard labor were evident, as Khan was constantly a step behind for the duration of the 25 minute encounter. Khan tried his best to time Folayang with his counters, but just couldn’t pin down the Filipino’s rhythm.

In the second round, Folayang staggered Khan with a series of spinning back fists across the fence. Khan broke away and attempted an ill-advised flying knee, which Folayang aptly caught mid-air and then used the momentum to slam Khan down to the mat emphatically.

On the ground, Folayang applied heavy top pressure, raining down hard punches from dominant position to close the round.

In the championship rounds, Khan tried to turn up the activity, sensing he was behind on the judges’ scorecards. But Folayang utilized his veteran experience to stay out of danger, and continue racking up the points en route to the judges’ decision.

Amir Khan Eduard Folayang One Championship
Eduard Folayang v Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of ChampionsPHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

In the end, it was a thorough and complete performance for the 34-year-old, who earned the victory via unanimous decision and was crowned the new ONE Lightweight World Champion. The victory saw Folayang once again at the top of the heap at lightweight, improving his overall record to 21-6 while Khan falls to 11-4, failing in his first bid at a world title.

“First of all, I would like to thank the lord God for teach my hands how to fight and who blessed me with victory,” Folayang told Mitch Chilson in the post-bout interview.

“I would also like to thank my team, who inspired me to win. We’re a family. I inspire them and they inspire me. Thank you to all who came out here tonight to show your support.”

Amir Khan Eduard Folayang One Championship
Eduard Folayang defeats Amir Khan to win the Lightweight World Title at ONE: Conquest of Champions. PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

In the main event of the evening, ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera turned in a spectacular performance, stopping game but outclassed challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli with a well-placed left hook.

Vera spent two years away from competition to focus on his budding acting career, but returned to the ONE Championship cage looking like a new man.

ONE Championship now heads to the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur on 7 December for ONE: Destiny of Champions.

MMA (MIXED MARTIAL ARTS)