Eduard Folayang, Shinya Aoki face off at ‘ONE: A New Era’ press conference in Tokyo, Japan

Eduard Folayang, Shinya Aoki (© ONE Championship)
Eduard Folayang, Shinya Aoki (© ONE Championship)

28 March 2019 – Tokyo, Japan: The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), recently held the official ONE: A NEW ERA Kick-Off Press Conference on March 28, 2019 at the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo, Japan. In attendance were main event competitors, reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and the challenger, former titleholder Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, who were both accompanied by Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, Mr. Chatri Sityodtong.

Also in attendance were competitors in three co-main events, including ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan and her challenger, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, ONE Middleweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang who defends his title against Ken Hasegawa, ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon who puts his belt on the line against the legendary Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, and finally, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez who are set to make their ONE Championship debuts.

Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, stated: “We don’t sell fights like every other organization in the world. We build heroes who ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams, and inspiration. This is ONE Championship. As a lifelong martial artist, I want the world to see the true beauty of martial arts. Our heroes, our World Champions, they exemplify the very best of humanity. I am very excited to be here in Japan. We are the only truly global sports media property in Asia celebrating our greatest cultural treasure, martial arts. ONE: A NEW ERA is the biggest martial arts event in the history of the world.”

Eduard Folayang, ONE Lightweight World Champion, stated: “I am well-prepared for this bout. I am so happy to be here in Japan for this historic event. I know Shinya [Aoki] has prepared well also and I am expecting the very best from him. This rematch is three years in the making. It’s an honor to face Shinya again. I believe this event is going to be explosive. History will be made.”

Shinya Aoki, ONE World Title Challenger, stated: “I am thankful that ONE Championship is in my home country. This is a great step forward for martial arts in Japan. I am laser focused for this coming match. I’ve trained very hard for my opponent. This Sunday night, I am confident I can achieve victory and become World Champion once again.”

Xiong Jing Nan, ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion, stated: “I will face a tough opponent in Angela Lee, but I am confident I can defend my title. Sunday, Angela and I will bring the best of us. I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to compete and showcase my skills on such a huge platform. I want to give the fans a fight they will never forget.”

Angela Lee, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion, stated: “We’ve been training for Xiong Jing Nan for a while now. I think her style and my style match up perfectly. We’re both very aggressive. Going for this second World Title at strawweight is a dream I’ve had for a long time. Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Japan. I am so excited. This Sunday, 31 March, history will be made.”

Aung La N Sang, ONE Middleweight World Champion, stated: “It’s an honor and a dream come true for me to be fighting here in Japan. I want to thank Japan for the hospitality. Ken Hasegawa is a worthy opponent and I can’t wait to run it back with him. This is going to be a fight that fans will definitely enjoy. I am super excited to put on a show for you all this Sunday.”

Ken Hasegawa, ONE World Title Challenger, stated: “This rematch is very important for my career. Last year, we did battle and I gave everything I had. This time, I plan to do the same. I am willing to do whatever it takes to win. Aung La N Sang is an amazing champion, but I plan to shock the world this Sunday.”

Kevin Belingon, ONE Bantamweight World Champion, stated: “This is my first time fighting in Japan, and I’m very happy to be here. I know how important this third fight is with Bibiano [Fernandes]. I’ve trained very hard and fans will be happy with my performance. Looking back at our previous encounters, I know my opponent well now. I think he knows who I am also. I’m looking forward to putting on another show and hopefully get the knockout.”

Bibiano Fernandes, ONE World Title Challenger, stated: “Kevin [Belingon] is a great champion. He has earned everything he has now, and I’m happy for him. But I really truly believe I won the first fight. In this third fight, I’m going to take the belt back. I’m going to prove to everyone that I’m still the best in the world and start a new reign as World Champion.”

Eddie Alvarez, ONE Athlete, stated: “I am focused on my opponent, Timofey [Nastyukhin]. I asked for the most dangerous guy, and I got him. I’ve trained very hard for this fight. My mind and body are ready. I’m looking at that shiny belt right there, it’s the only one I don’t have. That’s the goal. Whatever it takes, however long it takes, my goal is to win the ONE Championship World Title.”

Demetrious Johnson, ONE Athlete, stated: “This is the next step in my evolution as an athlete. It should be interesting. For me it’s a long time coming, fighting in front of my Japanese fan base. I’m not taking Yuya Wakamatsu lightly. I just want to go out there and do what I do best, be the best Demetrious Johnson I can be.”

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Eddie Alvarez vs Eduard Folayang?

Eddie Alvarez (© ONE Championship)
Eddie Alvarez (© ONE Championship)

Multiple-time Lightweight Mixed Martial Arts World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez is on a mission for the ONE Lightweight World Title. The title is currently held by Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, who is training out of Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines.

Since joining ONE Championship in 2018, Alvarez has made his plans to go after the belt crystal clear. As he finally makes his ONE Championship debut this 31 March at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, his goal comes even closer in proximity.

On the main card of ONE: A NEW ERA, Alvarez faces Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin in a quarter-final bout of the highly-anticipated ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix. The American is quick to remind fans of his success rate in the tournament format.

“I have traveled the world in the last 15 years fighting the best guys I can get my hands on everywhere,” Alvarez said. “I have won every single World Title from every major organization and ONE Championship is the only organization that I don’t have their World Title.”

Alvarez has indeed traveled the world and has defeated some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. The 35-year-old owns victories over the likes of Shinya Aoki, Roger Huerta, Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Justin Gaethje.

Moving halfway across the world to showcase his skills in Asia, Alvarez acknowledges the talent level in ONE Championship, and is not underestimating the competition. He knows exactly what he is up against, having competed in Asia early in his career. Nevertheless, “The Underground King” fully expects to add another World Title to his trophy case.

“I am coming here to win my World Title,” Alvarez said. “I have made some space on my shelf for the ONE Championship belt. I know the fighters are tough and this group understands the integrity of the sport and what it means to be a martial artist and I want to be a part of that.”

Alvarez takes the first step towards the ONE Lightweight World Title at ONE: A NEW ERA. If he can defeat Nastyukhin, Alvarez will advance to the semi-final round where fellow American Lowen Tynanes is waiting.

Tynanes absolutely smashed the Philippines’ Honorio “The Rock” Banario earlier this year to advance in the tournament, and could be another tough test for Alvarez. However, Alvarez is not looking past his Russian opponent at the moment, and says he had himself asked for an opponent of Nastyukhin’s ilk for his ONE debut.

“Like I said before, I’ll fight anyone, whoever the baddest, toughest, most dangerous guy that’s who I want,” Alvarez concluded. “Take me to him and we will have a good fight.”

“ONE: A New Era” is the first ONE Championship event to be held in Japan. In the main event, Folayang will defend his belt from Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, 35, of Japan in a rematch.

Meanwhile, here is Alvarez in a recent ONE Championship open workout in Tokyo:

Team Lakay’s Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon are Stephen Loman’s MMA idols

Joshua Pacio, Geje Eustaquio, Mark Sangiao, Kevin Belingon, Eduard Folayang, Stephen Loman (© ONE Championship)
Joshua Pacio, Geje Eustaquio, Mark Sangiao, Kevin Belingon, Eduard Folayang, Stephen Loman (© ONE Championship)

Based in Baguio City, Philippines, mixed martial arts team Team Lakay has three reigning MMA world champions. They are ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landsilde” Folayang, 35, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, 31, and Brave Combat Federation Bantamweight Stephen “The Sniper” Loman, 23.

“My MMA idol is of course my (fellow reigning champions in Team Lakay),” Loman told me in an exclusive interview. “When I was still very young in this sport, (I was encouraged by) watching Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, their fights, and of course, I’m motivated by their (way of) giving proud (moments) to the Philippines when they won so I’m motivated by their fights.”

Team Lakay was founded by its current head coach Mark Sangiao. Earlier this year, the team has six reigning MMA world champions but Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 22, and Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, 29, recently lost their respective titles in the strawweight and flyweight divisions of ONE Championship.

Loman, Folayang and Belingon are all set to defend their respective titles. Both Folayang and Belingon are on the “ONE: A New Era” card.

“ONE: A New Era,” the first ONE Championship event to be held in Japan, will take place at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on March 31, 2019. In the main event, Folayang will defend his belt from Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, 35, of Japan in a rematch.

Belingon will defend his belt from Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, 38, of Brazil at “ONE: A New Era.” It will be a trilogy bout.

On March 15, 2019, Belingon’s fellow bantamweight fighter Loman will defend his belt in the main event of “Brave 22: Storm of Warriors” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

“Brave 22: Storm of Warriors” is the first ever Philippine event of Bahrain-based MMA promotion Brave Combat Federation. Loman’s challenger in the main event is former Brave CF Featherweight Champion Elias “Smile” Boudegzdame, 25, of France.

This will be the first time Loman is competing in Brave CF in his home country. The promotion has brought him to different countries where he experience different cultures and traditions.

“Every time I fight, I am adapting to the culture of different places, either in Bahrain, in Belfast, I adapt to the time and of course, their tradition and culture,” Loman said. “But it’s very nice to experience those things because you see a lot of, you see a lot of the tradition and culture in every country so it’s a very good experience to see (such things).”

Here is my recent interview with Loman:

Team Lakay’s Eduard Folayang: Shinya Aoki is MMA’s greatest submission artist

Eduard Folayang (© ONE Championship)
Eduard Folayang (© ONE Championship)

On March 31, 2018, Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, 35, of Shizuoka, Japan will challenge reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, 35, of Baguio City, Philippines in the main event of “ONE: A New Era” the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. The defending champion recently expressed how much he respects the challenger.

“He’s the greatest submission artist in mixed martial arts history,” Folayang said of Aoki. “I couldn’t be happier to headline this event against him. It is an honor.”

“ONE: A New Era” is the first ONE Championship event to be held in Japan and the main event is a rematch between Folayang and Aoki. The Japanese challenger gets the chance to rematch his tormentor after working his way back up the lightweight ladder with three impressive wins.

“I knew at one point or another, I would be facing Shinya again,” Folayang said. “It was inevitable. He was quickly coming back up and I had just won the title again. Plus, the huge Japan event was announced. I anticipated defending the lightweight belt against him there. “

Folayang was happy to show the world his improvements, especially in the grappling aspect of his game after learning that he will be defending his title against Aoki. To be able to do that against a man known as the Grandmaster of Flying Submissions would be a testament of the Baguio City native’s hard work.

The reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion knows that Aoki is very dangerous when the action hits the mat. Training out of Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines, the Filipino champ has been putting in the extra work to fortify his takedown defense to keep the action on the feet.

With an entire nation sitting squarely on his shoulders, Folayang aims to notch what would perhaps be the biggest victory in his career thus far. He said, “Nevertheless, I am grateful for the opportunity to once again face this legend.”

“As much as possible, I will not give him the opportunity to bring me down to the mat,” the Team Lakay fighter continued. “It all boils down to how well I defend myself from his takedowns, knowing how expertly he moves with this sole purpose in mind. Takedown defense is a very important part of my training right now, and I am constantly improving in this area.”

Meanwhile, here is Folayang in an open workout in the Philippines: