MANILA — The stakes are high for Eduard Folayang when he makes his first title defense against Malaysian-Kiwi Ev Ting on Friday.
Folayang is out to prove his true worth as champion by putting his ONE lightweight title on the line in front of his Filipino fans at Mall of Asia Arena.
Making the fight more interesting is the fact that he has to defend his title against an opponent who has crushed several Filipino cage warriors.
“Alam kong pinaghandaan niya ako at alam kong may mga tinalo siyang mga kababayan natin,” Folayang said during the final presser ahead of his ONE: Kings of Destiny bout.
“So I need to perform my best dahil ayaw kong danasin ‘yung same fate na dinanas nila and especially because I am defending the belt here in the Philippines.”
Ting, who beat the likes of Eric and Edward Kelly, Cally Bullos and Honorio Banario, remains respectful of the Filipino title holder.
“He’s such a lovely guy, I don’t think anyone could say anything bad about him,” said “E.T.”
“But I’m ready for every scenario, every situation that can come up in the fight. So it’s simply working harder and more.”
Although both fighters exhibited their cool demeanor in front of the media on Tuesday, fans are expecting a violent exchange between the two warriors.
Folayang is known to have dropped several foes using his flashy spinning back fists and kicks, while Ting has forced several others to tap out using his deadly guillotine choke.
“This will be a very interesting fight. There will be a lot of fireworks,” said the Team Lakay star.
“Kung gusto niyo ng fireworks, punta kayo sa Friday. Makikita niyo kung paanong mag-fireworks ang Malaysia at Pilipinas.”
Folayang emphasized that the real test of a champion is in his first title defense. "Maraming nakakakuha ng championship," he said. "Ang totoong challenge is how to keep it."
ONE Championship vice president for publicity Loren Mack promised ONE: Kings of Destiny to be the biggest MMA event in Philippine history.
“This is our 10th event in Manila, and we aim to give the Philippines the absolute best that will keep our audiences at the edge of their seats,” he said.
Aside from Folayang, four Team Lakay fighters are slated on the undercard, featuring former ONE featherweight king Honorio “The Rock” Banario as he takes on lightweight stalwart Jaroslav Jartim of Czech Republic
Meanwhile, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon shares the cage with ex-world title challenger Toni “Dynamite” Tauru of Finland in a three-round bantamweight encounter.
Gina “Conviction” Iniong makes her much-awaited promotional debut as she is booked to square off with Filipino-English standout Natalie Gonzales Hills, while Danny Kingad is tasked to face flyweight newcomer Muhammad Aiman of Malaysia.
Also booked for the Manila card is fan-favorite Eugene Toquero, who battles Indonesian flyweight prospect Stefer Rahardian.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.