Folayang reaches summit fight with rival Aoki

·2 min read

PHILIPPINE MMA icon Eduard Folayang looks to end his historic rivalry with Japanese legend Shinya Aoki on April 29, 2021, in a trilogy in one of the featured fights of “ONE on TNT IV” at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

The 36-year-old Folayang is in a bit of a funk lately and needs a huge win if he wants to stay relevant in the lightweight division. If Folayang beats Aoki, he’ll bounce back from back-to-back loses and will undoubtedly break into the top five of the lightweight division.

Folayang had an awful 2020 and dropped a split decision to Pieter Buist and a unanimous decision to Tony Caruso.

Aoki, on the other, is also in a crucial fight against Folayang. The 37-year-old former lightweight champion is currently in the running for another shot at ONE lightweight king Christian Lee, who knocked him out in 2019.

Aoki won his last three fights against Folayang’s teammate Honorio Banario, Kimihiro Eto and James Nakashima.

Folayang and Aoki first met in 2016 in a ONE lightweight title fight.

Folayang shocked the world by knocking out Aoki in the third round in what was one of the year’s biggest upsets.

Aoki, however, exacted his revenge in 2019 as he submitted Folayang with an arm triangle choke in the opening round to win the ONE lightweight strap.

Folayang is 22-10, while Aoki, rated No. 4 in the lightweight rankings, is 46-9.

Also seeing action in the same show is Filipina-American Jackie Buntan.

Buntan looks to win back-to-back fights in the ONE Championship cage as she takes on three-time Muay Thai world champin Ekaterina “Barbie” Vandaryeva in a Muay Thai bout.

Buntan, the teammate of ONE atomweight kickboxing champion Janet Todd, is coming off a huge victory over highly touted Wondergirl Fairtex, who was rated No. 1 in the atomweight division of both kickboxing and Muay Thai, by unanimous decision last Feb. 26, 2021.

Vandaryeva is eager to return to the winning column after getting knocked out with a vicious head kick by Todd.

Buntan is 21-5, while Vandaryeva is 58-8-1.

The main event features a title defense of ONE light heavyweight titleholder Aung La N Sang (26-11) in a rematch with ONE middleweight champion Reinier de Ridder. (EKA)