FORMER ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang and Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki will be facing each other in a trilogy on “ONE on TNT IV” on April 28, 2021 after their respective opponents pulled out.
Folayang was supposed to take on former UFC fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama, but the Japanese veteran was forced to back out due to an injury.
“This will be a monumental test for me. It’s a sudden change of our preparation, but I’m a professional athlete, so I have to be prepared for anything, at any given time. I have to be ready to calibrate for what will be served for that perfect aim,” said Folayang in a statement. “I am not a pessimistic person, and I’m a warrior. Naturally, I’m not expecting to lose, but to get the big victory this time.”
The 36-year-old Folayang dropped his last two fights. He lost to Pieter Buist via a close split decision on Jan. 31, 2020 and to Tony Caruso by unanimous decision on Oct. 30.
Aoki, also a former ONE lightweight champion, was scheduled to face Sage Northcutt, but the American striker backed out of the fight because of Covid-19 health and safety protocols.
“This is the last event of the ‘ONE on TNT’ series, so it’s meant to be, and it’s going to be a great one for fans. A lot of people have been waiting for this trilogy with Folayang,” said the 37-year-old Aoki. “Looking back at the past two fights against him, I am very motivated to perform well. This fight is a great one for ONE Championship. I think this fight has a lot of meaning. It’s fate that we meet again. As always, I will fight anyone, because I am a proud wrestler and fighter.”
Folayang and Aoki first met in 2016 in a ONE Championship lightweight title fight. Folayang scored a huge upset after stopping Aoki, who was making his ONE Championship debut, in three rounds.
Three years later, Folayang and Aoki got their rematch. Aoki, this time, didn’t let Folayang gain any momentum and submitted him with an arm triangle choke in the opening round to win the ONE lightweight belt.
Folayang is 22-10, while Aoki is 46-9. (EKA)