FILIPINO mixed martial arts world champion Eduard Folayang, a bona fide Cordilleran, said indigenous martial arts helped formed his fighting skills when he was a boy.
Folayang, who recently won the ONE lightweight championship in Singapore through a spectacular knockout of “legendary” Japanese fighter Shinya Aoki, mentioned at least two childhood games that his peers used to play during their childhood.
In one of those juvenile games, Folayang recalled, boys compete by wrestling each other.
“It was like judo,” Folayang said.
In the other game, the boys were engaged in a sort of a kicking competition.
“When the game starts, you can kick anyone you like to kick,” Folayang said while chuckling.
Folayang, nicknamed “Landslide,” was in Los Angeles on Sunday (November 20) where he had a meet and greet event at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on Sunset Boulevard. It was arranged by Yey Coronel-Alcid of the Filipino American Service Group Inc., (FASGI).
The mixed martial arts champion was participating in a show that Netflix and ONE were putting up for their viewers. He flew back to the Philippines the next day.
In the past, the proud Cordilleran had also brought to the Philippines. Folayang was a member of Team Lakay Wushu which was based in Baguio City. He has won several international Wushu tournaments, including a gold medal at the 2011 South East Asian Games, a silver medal in the 2006 Doha Asian Games and bronze medals in both the 2005 World Wushu Championship and the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
But what makes Folayang’s story more colorful was his incredible persistence that enabled him to rise up from extreme poverty. Five of Folayang’s siblings died from diseases during their childhood.
“So what I want to say is, whatever your circumstances, don’t give up. Believe in yourself and God will protect you,” Folayang said.
Prior to becoming a mixed martial arts fighter, Folayang was an English and Physical Education teacher in Baguio City. He graduated from the University of Cordilleras, a private university in Baguio City.
Recalling his most recent fight, Folayang said while he studied Aoki’s style (his opponent in the world lightweight title match), he did not dwell on the latter’s supposed submission skill.
“I concentrated on my own strengths,” Folayang said, adding that he patiently stayed in defensive mode until he had an opportunity to launch his attack.
Folayang ended Aoki’s winning streak that has stretched for four years in the 3rd round of their bout in Singapore last November 11. An underdog coming to the fight, Folayang’s win was considered a great upset in the Asian mixed martial arts scene.
Asked if the win has made him any richer, the Cordilleran champion just smiled and told the crowd that he was indeed richer but not in monetary terms “but in experience.”
ONE Championship is a Singapore-based mixed martial arts promotion established in 2011. It is supposed to be Asia’s largest sports media property, with a global broadcast of over a billion homes.