Issue of January 8, 2017

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Folayang named as 2016 ONE Fighter of the Year
by Harley F. Palangchao

FIGHTER OF THE YEAR -- Baguio’s own Eduard Folayang has been named by ONE Championship as the “Fighter of the Year” of the biggest MMA promotions in Asia. Folayang is the reigning ONE lightweight world champion. -- ONE photo



ONE Championship lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang has clinched the 2016 Fighter of the Year recognition by Asia’s largest mixed martial arts promotion.

In its yearend report, the Singapore-based ONE Championship credited 33-year-old Folayang’s “no retreat, no surrender” attitude since signing up with the promotion and headlining its debut six years ago.

Folayang’s long journey to the world title came full circle with a stunning technical knockout of long-time champion Shinya Aoki in their Nov. 11 championship bout in Singapore.

The Baguio native, who hails from Sadanga, Mountain Province, has expressed his readiness to face any fighter on ONE Championship’s lightweight roster and seeks to have his first title defense before his countrymen.

Before that historic win against Aoki, Folayang was several times a top contender for the world title, but he lost to worthy opponents. But there was no turning back since.

Folayang came back strong from a devastating knockout against Timofey Nastyukhin in December 2014 to beat Tetsuya Yamada in January 2016 after a one-year hiatus from MMA.

He was then pitted against Adrian Pang, another top lightweight contender, whom he outclassed en route to a unanimous victory in August 2016. The Folayang-Pang bout was ranked number three in top five Best Fights of 2016.

The win against Pang earned Folayang a crack for the world title, which he eventually won against Aoki.

ONE Championship also credited former ONE featherweight world champion Honorio Banario for his impressive victories after a five-game losing streak in the bantamweight division. Banario is now fighting in the lightweight class.

Banario broke his losing spell in 2016 and is currently riding high on a three-bout victory parade.

The year 2016 was also a great year for Team Lakay fighters Edward Kelly, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Danny Kingad, Joshua Pacio, and April Osenio.

The young Pacio had three fights under the ONE Championship banner in 2016, winning his first two assignments in impressive fashion.

His two consecutive wins inside the ONE Championship cage earned him a date with ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka Naito last October, but he lost to the reigning champion via rear-naked choke.

Meanwhile, Kingad had his fair share of spectacular moments as part of ONE Championship’s exciting flyweight bracket.

In his first promotional appearance last April, he stopped Malaysian fighter Muhamad Haidar just a little over two minutes into the first round.

At ONE: Age of Domination last December, Kingad mustered a huge victory by submitting veteran and compatriot Eugene Toquero with a first-round armbar.

Even with the influx of fledgling combatants from all corners of the archipelago, Pacio and Kingad will most likely lead the way for the new breed of Filipino talents in ONE Championship.

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Sanitary Camp bags crown in SBP–Lawana Cup Season 7

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Ex–UFC fighter scouts for Cordillera athletes

Group fosters values thru sports

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