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Eduard Folayang: When an underdog finally became a world champion

In the five years that I was with the ABS-CBN Sports website, I was fortunate enough to have covered quite a number of memorable sports moments, so when I was asked to write about which was the most memorable for me, it was tough to narrow it down to just one single coverage. I could have written about Letran’s momentous upset of a dynasty-seeking San Beda in the NCAA Season 91 Finals, or I could have written about the Philippine Azkals making history by clinching a spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.  Being an MMA fan, I could have written about getting to be Octagon-side for the UFC’s first and only trip to Manila, which was indeed a dream come true for me.  When I think about it however, the coverage that sticks with me to this day, even four years later, was being cage-side, just inches away from Eduard  “Landslide” Folayang as he pummeled Shinya Aoki to become the ONE Lightweight World Champion in Singapore back in 2016.  I tell people about that night all the time, and I believe I’ll continue to do so for the rest of my life.  A Fan First As I mentioned earlier, I’m an MMA fan. In fact, being a fan was actually how I eventually got into sports writing.  During my first year or so with ABS-CBN, I got wind of a show on Balls Channel entitled “The Takedown” which was, you guessed it, about the UFC. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to be a part of that show, in any capacity. I even offered to research or write for free, LOL.  While I never did get to work on the show (because unfortunately, it lasted only a few episodes), I did get to make some connections (shoutout to Sir Lori, Ms. Jo, and Ms. Anna!) which eventually landed me a gig as a UFC writer for the Balls Channel Website. During that time, I got to meet and interview stars like BJ Penn, Alexander Gustafsson, Urijah Faber, Cung Le, and even Arianny Celeste. For an MMA fan like me, it was like working a dream job. It was a pretty sweet gig.  Eventually, that job with the Balls Channel Website would lead me to a spot on the ABS-CBN Sports Website which was launched in 2015. By 2016, I had started covering Asia-based MMA promotion ONE Championship quite a bit because ABS-CBN had signed a broadcast deal with them, and because ONE had a ton of homegrown Pinoy fighters on their roster, most notably Folayang and the Team Lakay guys.  Folayang, whose contract with ONE expired in March of 2016, re-signed with the promotion and returned to action in August, defeating Adrian Pang by Unanimous Decision in Macau. That win over Pang earned Folayang the biggest bout of his career at that point: a title shot against reigning champion Aoki.  When I learned of that title fight, I was very excited for Folayang, but had little expectations for his chances, being that Aoki was a legend in the sport.  Best Seat in the House Eduard Folayang finally getting to fight for a world championship was a huge deal for Filipino MMA fans, especially those that had followed the Baguio-based star’s career since his days in the URCC. The Pinoy star was on ONE’s first ever event, but could never seem to gain enough momentum to compete for a world title, until that point.  That November night in Singapore, all the years of work sacrifice that Folayang had put in during his nine-year MMA career would finally pay off.  This was only my second time to cover a ONE event overseas, so apart from having to write stories, I also had to take pictures. Learning from my past mistakes, I asked if I could have a spot cage-side so that I could take some at least decent photos. Thankfully, the ONE people agreed and gave me a spot just beside one of the judges’ tables.  I had the best seat in the house.  Now, as I said, I had tapered my expectations for the fight. I had seen what Aoki could do in the cage. I’ve seen the guy break peoples’ bones before, so honestly, I was just hoping that he wouldn’t injure Folayang. Our guy was the underdog heading into this fight, no doubt about it.  Of course, as a Filipino and as a fan I was hoping for a massive upset. The beautiful thing about MMA is anything can happen.  Shock The World This was legitimately the first time that I felt nervous covering a fight. It’s like that feeling you have when your favorite basketball team is in a close game with just seconds left.  That first round was a frigging whirlwind of emotions if you’re a Pinoy MMA fan. It looked like Aoki was within moments of being able to submit Folayang on multiple occasions.  The second round was a little bit more relaxed for Folayang, especially since he had been able to survive Aoki’s opening round grappling blitz. It looked like he was a bit more confident and he started to throw some of his trademark spinning kicks and elbows.  A miscalculated flying knee attempt led to another Aoki takedown, but this time around, Folayang appeared a little more calm and relaxed under the pressure.  Late in the round, Folayang began to attack Aoki’s torso with punches and kicks, and it looked like it had the Japanese legend a bit winded. The tide had shifted.  Heading into the third round, there was a different feeling in the air. It felt like Aoki was done, and it felt like Folayang knew it.  In the opening seconds of that fateful third frame, Folayang knew exactly what Aoki was going to do and had an answer for it. Aoki shot in for a takedown, and Folayang countered it with a jumping knee to the jaw.  For a brief second, Folayang was on his behind, but managed to outmuscle Aoki and deliver another vicious knee.  “Oh sh*t!” I yelled internally while scrambling to take photos of the ensuing beatdown.  Folayang turned Aoki over and began to connect with punch after unanswered punch.  Without taking my eye away from my camera’s viewfinder, I started yelling for Folayang to finish it.  Folayang continued to punish Aoki with piston-like punches as the Singapore Indoor Stadium began to erupt.  For what felt like an eternity, referee Yuji Shimada watched as Folayang unloaded nine years worth of heartbreak and frustration into a ground-and-pound sequence.  And then, it was over.  There was a new lightweight king.  AND NEW! EDUARD FOLAYANG STOPS SHINYA AOKI IN ROUND 3! — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) November 11, 2016     The Landslide Reigns As much as I would have wanted to keep it cool, I started to freak out. I looked to my right and saw my fellow Pinoy journalists doing the same, one was even standing on the table, cheering the new world champion on.  At that point, I had watched UAAP championships, NCAA championships, even some boxing world championships, but this one was different. I knew what Folayang had gone through. I knew that the odds were stacked against him.  As the confetti began to rain down and the celebration inside the ring continued, I recomposed myself and started to take pictures again. I wanted to be able to capture this moment.  After the official decision and the post-fight interview, I remember calling out to Folayang so that I could take a photo of him with his shiny new toy.  I’ve gotten to witness other members of Team Lakay become champions since then. I’ve been blessed enough to see Geje Eustaquio, Kevin Belingon and Joshua Pacio all become titleholders within a single year. While getting to see Team Lakay draped in gold to end 2018 was definitely a sight to behold, being there cage side as ‘Manong Ed’ realized a life-long dream was definitely an experience that I won’t soon forget.  Folayang's title win wasn't Team Lakay's first world champmionship, and it isn't the last. For me however, I think it's the most important, because it showed that no matter how many times you fall, you can still find your way to the top.  Everyone loves a good underdog story.  -- Santino Honasan has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2015. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020. .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 29th, 2020

WHAT IF: Eduard Folayang had stopped Eddie Alvarez back in 2019?

In August of 2019, the Mall of Asia Arena in Metro Manila played host to arguably one of the biggest matches in ONE Championship lightweight history.  In one corner was Filipino mixed martial arts icon and hometown favorite Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang, a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion who was looking to bounce back after dropping the title to Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in Japan earlier that year.  Standing in the opposite corner was American star Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, a former UFC and Bellator Lightweight Champion and one of ONE’s biggest acquisitions in recent memory. Like Folayang, Alvarez was also looking to get back on track after a disappointing KO loss to Timofey Nastyukhin in his ONE debut.  Considered a dream match by ONE Championship fans, Folayang versus Alvarez was billed as East versus West. One of ONE’s pioneers against one of ONE’s newest stars.  As much as the storylines made the match very intriguing, the stakes were quite high as well.  With the semifinals of the then-ongoing ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix doomed by injuries, the Folayang-Alvarez bout was elevated to Grand Prix semifinals status, meaning that the winner would go on to face Turkish knockout artist Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev in the Finals at ONE: CENTURY.  For Folayang, it was a step towards reclaiming the title that he held at the start of the year. For Alvarez, it was a way to erase the memory of his bitter debut loss and also a step closer towards capturing his third major world championship.  While the Folayang-Alvarez was the third-to-the last bout on the bill, for many of the Pinoy fans in attendance at the MOA Arena that night, it sure felt like the main event.  From the opening bell, the crowd was buzzing, anxious to see of their hometown hero could pull off the massive victory.  Chants of “Folayang! Folayang!” rang through MoA Arena just seconds before the Pinoy connected on a solid counter left hook that definitely got the American star’s attention.  After a flurry of kicks from Folayang, the briefly fell into a nervous silence as Alvarez caught a leg kick and managed to get Folayang to the ground before trapping him in a standing guillotine.  Folayang simply shrugged off the half-hearted submission attempt, much to the delight of the partisan-Pinoy crowd. So far so good for Team Philippines.  A flying knee from Alvarez collided with a spinning back kick from Folayang, which elicited some oohs and ahhs from the crowd, which was ready to go off as soon as their bet landed something big.  Folayang began to pick up steam as he launched strike after strike, throwing kicks, punches, and elbows. It was clear that the Team Lakay star was in control of the stand-up aspect of the fight.  Then, at the 3:37 mark of the first round, the big strike that the fans were waiting for finally came. Folayang, with his massive tree-trunk legs, whipped a right low kick that connected on Alvarez’s left leg, sending the American down to the mat. The way Alvarez sat back down, it looked like he was hurt.  Sensing blood in the water, Folayang went for the kill and began dropping fists as Alvarez tried to defend himself. A failed armbar attempt from Alvarez forced Folayang to reposition himself, moving into side control while still throwing hammerfist after hammerfist.  Then, all of a sudden, Alvarez managed to slip his right hand in between Folayang’s legs and then flip the Pinoy over. Just like that, it was Alvarez who was on top.  Unlike his Pinoy opponent however, Alvarez remained calm and slowly transitioned into full mount. Making things worse, Folayang, likely looking to prevent and ground and pound damage, turned and gave up his back.  Almost immediately, Alvarez sinked his hooks in and flattened Folayang out before locking in a rear naked choke and forcing the Pinoy to tap out.  While he did win, Alvarez would miss out on the Finals anyway after an injury would force him to withdraw as well. As a result, Dagi ended up facing - and losing to - reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee.  Folayang was offered the Finals spot against Dagi, but last-minute visa issues would prevent him from being able to step up.  The loss was quite a painful one to swallow, not just for Folayang, but also for the fans.  Folayang admitted after the fight that he had rushed to get the finish, causing him to be a bit careless and make some costly mistakes.  "I was too eager to get the finish, and I think that’s the mistake, I became impatient, and I wanted to finish him as soon as possible but it didn’t go that way, so, that happened," Folayang explained.  But WHAT IF Folayang hadn’t rushed? Close your eyes and imagine:  After chopping Alvarez down with the leg kick at the 3:37 mark, Folayang pounced and picked his spots, landing some good shots to the head, enough to stun the American and force the referee to step in and stop the fight.  Or, what if instead of pouncing, Folayang allowed the visibly hurt Alvarez to get back up and from there, continued to punish The Underground King’s leg (or legs) en route to a TKO finish.  Folayang would have booked his ticked to the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix Finals. More importantly, Folayang would have been able to add Alvarez to the name of legend’s he’s beaten, and it would have skyrocketed his stock to even greater heights.  Would he have been able to defeat Dagi in the Finale? Of course it was very much possible. At the rate Dagi was knocking guys out up to that point, Folayang would have likely been considered an underdog, but a high-level striker like Folayang is never without his chances.  If Folayang had been able to get past Dagi as well, it would set up a very intriguing matchup between himself and Lee, which could have been a good matchup for the Pinoy star.  Now, Folayang finds himself once again looking to bounce back following a close loss to Dutch striker Pieter Buist.  Still hungry for a third run as world champion, Folayang will need to work his way back to the top of the division.  Who knows? Maybe two or three wins in, Folayang could find himself standing opposite Alvarez once again, with the chance to re-write history. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2020

Fil-Am UFC veteran Mark Muñoz shares his thoughts on the state of Filipino MMA

Apart from basketball and, as of recent years, volleyball, combat sports like boxing and mixed martial arts have been quite popular among Filipino sports fans.  A lot of credit for that goes to the likes of eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao, four-division boxing champion Nonito Donaire Jr., Donnie Nietes, and those who came before them like Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Pancho Villa, and Gerry Peñalosa, all of whom made it big on the world stage.  In recent years, a number of Filipinos are have also made a name for themselves in the global mixed martial arts arena, and one of the early big stars was none other than former UFC veteran Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz.  From 2009 to 2015, Muñoz was one of the UFC’s top middleweight contenders and proudly carried the Filipino flag with him each time he stepped inside the Octagon.  In May of 2015, on the UFC’s inaugural fight card in Manila, Muñoz retired in front of his kababayans after a unanimous decision win over Luke Barnatt.  (READ ALSO: Filipino-American MMA star Mark Muñoz recalls retirement bout in Manila) Muñoz’s run in the UFC came at a time when the North American promotion was easily accessible to fans in the Philippines, and he became a household name in terms of Filipino MMA.  Now, five years after Muñoz’s retirement, MMA in the Philippines has never been more popular, thanks in large part to promotions like the Asia-based ONE Championship, which holds around four events in Manila every year, and of course, the URCC, the Philippines’ first-ever MMA promotion.  Today, homegrown Filipino talents like Eduard Folayang, Joshua Pacio, Kevin Belingon, Denice Zamboanga, Chris Hoffman, an many others have also gotten their time to shine on the world stage, and Muñoz believes that it’s because Filipinos are natural fighters.  “I just feel Filipinos in general have that combat mentality. That’s already inside of them,” Muñoz said on The Hitlist vodcast. “I feel that Filipinos, from the days that we have to get our independence from the Spanish, Jose Rizal, he’s a hero in the nation, it’s just embedded in our culture, in our blood, so I just feel like Filipinos in general would be amazing fighters.” Munoz made special mention of guys like former ONE world champions Folayang and Belingon, as well as URCC champions Hoffman, and Ernesto Montilla Jr.  “I mean you just look at the…Filipinos now, it’s growing and getting better. I’ve been following Eduard Folayang. He’s an amazing representative of the Philippines, Kevin Belingon, he’s the man. I think there’s another one that was on the card when I fought, Mark Eddiva is good. I know I’m leaving out a lot of fighters, there’s Ernesto Montilla Jr., when I was there in training, a guy caught my eyes, Chris Hoffman trained with me and helped me out. I know he’s doing big things in the Philippines. I think he’s URCC champion.”  “There’s a lot of good fighters in the Philippines. I know I’m leaving out a lot and I don’t want to do that but there’s a lot of good talents in the Philippines and I wanna come, I wanna be there and help them in wrestling, in MMA wresting, in ground and pound, in everything that was my specialty in MMA,” he added.  While Filipinos have indeed excelled in mixed martial arts, one aspect continues to be perceived as the Filipino fighter’s weakness is the ground game, whether it be wrestling or grappling.  (READ ALSO: Mark Muñoz not ruling out MMA return) Today’s young stars, guys like Team Lakay’s Pacio and Danny Kingad have displayed some exceptional grappling in their past performances, but Muñoz, a former collegiate wrestler and current wrestling coach, made a living off taking guys down and keeping them grounded.  “I think the common thing that everyone says with MMA is wrestling. Wrestling is the ultimate neutralizer. If you don’t have a good understanding of wrestling, you’re gonna have a really hard time becoming one of the, being ranked in the world or even be a champion,” Muñoz explained. “If you look at all the champions now, or the ones that are ranked in the world. A lot of them have background in wrestling. I feel that that’s something that the Philippines needs.” Muñoz has always said that one of the things he would most like to do is to help develop wrestling in the Philippines and hopes to one day be able to finally fulfill that mission.  “I’m the guy to do that for them. I need to make sure I spend time in the Philippines to be able to help that,” he continued......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2020

ONE Championship s G.O.A.Ts: Joshua Pacio rises above the strawweight division

Nearly nine years since ONE Championship's first-ever event back in September of 2011, the Singapore-based promotion has grown into a powerhouse when it comes to martial arts and mixed martial arts in Asia, and a true force on the global stage.  As the company continues to grow, so do the stars, and so do their legacies.  ONE Championship crowned their first batch of champions in October of 2012, with Kotetsu Boku becoming the inaugural ONE Lightweight World Champion and Soo Chul Kim becoming the inaugural ONE Bantamweight World Champion on the same night.  Since then many champions have come and gone, and some have strengthened their places as the Greatest of All Time in their respective divisions, so far.    Today, we take a look at the men's strawweight division's G.O.A.T. so far, Team Lakay's Joshua "The Passion" Pacio.  Name: Joshua Pacio Moniker: The Passion Age: 24 Height: 5'3" Weight: 52-KG Professional Record: 19-3 (6 KO/TKO, 9 SUB)   The New Kid on The Block Possibly the youngest of the G.O.A.T.s so far, Team Lakay strawweight star Joshua Pacio's resume is undeniable.  After an undefeated run in the regional and local circuits, Pacio made his debut on the ONE Championship stage in 2016, following in the footsteps of established Team Lakay stars such as Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Geje Eustaquio, and Kevin Belingon.  Pacio's debut bout was against compatriot Rabin Catalan, and immediately, he made quite the splash, scoring a second-round TKO victory. In his second ONE assignment, the young up-and-comer made his international debut in historic fashion, choking out Thailand's Kritsada Kongsrichai in just the first round in the first-ever ONE Championship bout in Macau, China.  The two impressive victories were enough, ONE Championship deemed, for Pacio to earn a world title shot against then-champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito of Japan.    Too Much, Too Soon? Many believed that Pacio was pushed into that situation too fast. After all, Naito, who had just dethroned former champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, was already a champion during his time in Shooto.  A precursor of things to come however, Pacio proved that he deserved to be in there with the champion, holding his own for three rounds before committing one single mistake and getting submitted by Naito. While Pacio's performance was impressive, it was clear that Naito's experience was still the difference-maker.    Comeback Kid Still very young and with so much promise ahead of him, Pacio continued to improve. Following the loss to Naito, Pacio compiled a 4-1 record with wins over the likes of former champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Roy Doliguez, Lan Ming Qian, and Pongsiri Mitsatit in the bout that introduced the iconic "Passion Lock."  A three-fight winning streak capped off by the impressive win over Mitsatit earned Pacio another shot at Naito and the ONE Strawweight World Championship.   A New King In this second encounter. Pacio showcased his exponential growth in skills and in confidence, as he stifled the submission specialist at his own game to become the new ONE Strawweight World Championship. Pacio would be one of four Team Lakay members capture ONE World Championship gold in 2018.  Winning the title was impressive, but keeping the title was another thing, and for his first defense, Pacio was getting ready to defend his title against a familiar opponent in Hayato Suzuki. It was a chance at revenge for Pacio since Suzuki had dealt the Pinoy his second career loss in 2017.  The rematch would not materialize however, and Pacio would be matched with another Japanese standout in Yosuke Saruta.  The short-notice opponent seemingly, as well as admitted confidence issues, took Pacio off his game, and Saruta stunned world by beating the Pinoy champion by Split Decision.    Pacio 2.0 Because the match was as close as close can be, ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong decided that the only next step would be an immediate rematch. With a renewed sense of confidence and a hunger to regain his place at the top, Joshua Pacio exacted revenge in explosive fashion, knocking Saruta clean out in the fourth round. The Champ was back.  Once again, Pacio had to prove that he was indeed the champion by successfully defending his title, and his first challenger was a Pinoy buzzsaw by the name of Rene Catalan.  Catalan was the obvious choice for top contender after racking up six straight victories, including a TKO win over former champion Naito (something that, in two attempts, Pacio was unable to do). When the cage doors closed on this Pinoy versus Pinoy world title bout however, Pacio showed that he was simply on another level, picking Catalan apart in the striking department before ultimately finishing things off with an arm-triangle in the second round.  If it wasn't clear then, it was clear now, who the top guy in the division was.  With the win over Catalan, Pacio was already nearing G.O.A.T. status in the strawweight division, having already defeated two former champions and the most dangerous contender there is. To finally acheive that status however, Pacio needed to turn back just one more former champion in Brazilian submission specialist Alex Silva and fittingly enough, ONE Championship booked that very match to kick off 2020.  Silva's resumé was stacked, with wins over the likes of Naito, Suzuki, Rene and Robin Catalan, and even Pacio's teammate Eustaquio. No doubt, the Brazlilan was going to be a tough challenge for "The Passion".  Throughout the five-round bout, Pacio was able to control the pace in the standup while also doing well in defending and scoring on the ground to grind out a Split Decision victory.  With the win over Silva, Pacio cemented his status as the best strawweight in the promotion today, and likely the best strawweight the promotion has seen so far.    WHY HE'S THE G.O.A.T. SO FAR: While of course there's an arguement for Yoshitaka Naito, Joshua Pacio is the best strawweight in ONE history because of the pedigree of opponents that he's defeated, which includes all former champions (Dejdamrong, Naito, Saruta, Silva), as well as having the most successful defenses in ONE strawweight history (2). What's even more impressive is that at 24 years old, it's likely that Pacio hasn't even reached his peak and could be at the top of the division for years to come.  The lone defeat that Pacio hasn't avenged, and may never get to, is the loss to Suzuki. Unfortunately, Suzuki has parted ways with ONE, and a rematch with "The Passion" grows more and more unlikely.  If you ask Pacio however, his legacy isn't something that he's thinking about just yet. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 2nd, 2020

Joshua Pacio and Alex Silva face off at ONE: FIRE & FURY Open Workouts

ONE Championship returns to the Philippines for the first time in 2020 with ONE: FIRE & FURY this coming Friday, January 31st at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Before 'The Home of Martial Arts' puts on yet another exciting show for its loyal Pinoy fans however, some of the athletes seeing action on Friday's must-see card gave the media a taste of what to expect on fight night during the official ONE: FIRE & FURY Open Workouts, Tuesday afternoon at One Esplanade.  Headlining Friday's card will be an intriguing ONE Strawweight World Championship bout between the Philippines' very own reigning titlist Joshua "The Passion" Pacio and former champion Alex "Little Rock" Silva of Brazil.  The champ is here! ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio will be defending his title against Alex Silva this Friday. Pacio will look for his second successful title defense | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/9IPuy5IVlk — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 The 24-year old Pacio, a member of the famed Team Lakay stable up in Benguet, will be looking to defend his ONE Strawweight World Championship for a second time, as he's coming off a successful title defense against compatriot Rene "D' Challenger" Catalan also in Manila last November.  Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex Silva of Brazil will try to regain his title against reigning champ Joshua Pacio this Friday | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/ZZ9AjY7hHk — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Standing opposite Pacio will be a dangerous test in former ONE Strawweight World Champion Silva, who captured the title back in 2017 with a decision win over Yoshitaka Naito. Silva's reign would not be a long one however, as Naito would reclaim the title the following year. Silva has managed to bounce back successfully and has racked off two straight wins over Stefer Rahardian and Peng Xuewen to earn another shot at gold.    Two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion @efolayang returns to action against Pietr Buist. He’s looking to kick off another run to the top of the division | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/3pT963fEbi — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 In the co-main event, Filipino mixed martial arts icon and two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard "Landslide" Folayang of Team Lakay returns to action to face Dutch up-and-comer Pietr "The Archangel" Buist.  Coming off his technical decision win over Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu in Manila back in Noveber, Folayang looks to score back-to-back wins and work his way back to the top of the ONE Championship lightweight title picture. Buist on the other hand, is looking to make a big impact on short notice, as he meets a big name in the Pinoy star. The Dutchman is currently 2-0 under the ONE banner.    ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finalist Danny Kingad of Team Lakay returns to action against Xie Wei. He’s coming off a great performance in a loss against Demetrious Johnson | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/qSVTtg2Igq — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Fresh off his ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finals bout against Demetrious Johnson, Danny "The King" Kingad steps back into the circle to face China's "The Hunter" Xie Wei. In spite of falling to Johnson in the flyweight tournament finale, the young Kingad, also a member of Team Lakay, drew praise from the American MMA star, and now looks to use his experience as fuel to return to the upper echelon of the flyweight division. With a five-fight winning streak in tow, Xie will look to score the biggest win of his career against a proven contender in Kingad.    ONE Warrior Series contract winner Lito Adiwang of Team Lakay does some shadow boxing before hitting the mitts. He faces Pongsiri Mitsatit on Friday. | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/hPwePNnOAt — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Looking to build off his explosive debut, strawweight Lito "Thunder Kid" Adiwang makes his way back to the Circle to face Thai veteran Pongsiri "The Smiling Assassin" Mitsatit.  Team Lakay's Adiwang, a ONE Warrior Series contract winner, announced his arrival with quick submission win over Senzo Ikeda in Tokyo back in October. He hopes to keep the momentum going as he faces another tough test in the form of Mitsatit.  With four losses in his last five bouts, Mitsatit is definitely hungry for a victory, and he hopes to finally return to the winners column at the expense of Team Lakay's newest soldier in the ONE ranks.    Women’s Atomweight contender and #SEAGames2019 Kickboxing Gold Medalist Gina Iniong of Team Lakay out next. She faces Asha Roka on Friday | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/X5hVVAUOzt — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 After dominating the field in kickboxing during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, gold medalist Gina "Conviction" Iniong returns to MMA and the ONE Circle to face India's Asha "Knockout Queen" Roka.  Team Lakay's Iniong is coming off an impressive split decision win over Jihin Radzuan back in 2019, and look to keep her momentum going as she faces one of the division's newest faces.  Losing to Stamp Fairtex in her maiden ONE appearance, Roka finds herself against an even more experienced opponent in perennial contender Iniong.    Filipina Jomary Torres of Catalan Fighting System first out. She trains with former title contender Rene Catalan. She faces Jenny Huang on Friday | #ONEChampionship #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/hJTCNemV1J — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Kicking things off on Friday will be Jomary "The Zamboanginian Fighter" Torres of Catalan Fighting System taking on former title contender Jenny "Lady GoGo" Huang of Chinese Taipei.  After a scorching start in ONE which saw her win her first three outings, Torres has cooled down drastically, losing her last four bouts. She hopes to finally arrest her losing skid against someone on the same boat in Huang.  Much like Torres, Huang was impressive to begin her ONE career, winning her first four assignments to earn a shot at Angela Lee and the ONE Women's Atomweight World Championship. Huang would lose to Lee and then drop her next four bouts to make it an excruciating five-fight losing streak.    Catch ONE: FIRE & FURY on Friday, January 31st at 8:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2020

ONE Championship: Joshua Pacio looking to prove he s worthy of being called a champion

For Filipino phenom Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, the distinction of being the ONE Strawweight World Champion means that he is no doubt one of the best in the world in his weight division.  A member of the famed Team Lakay stable out of Baguio City, Philippines, Pacio will look to remain atop the strawweight division’s rankings when he puts his title on the line against a former titleholder in Brazilian submission ace, Alex “Little Rock” Silva, in the main event of ONE: FIRE & FURY this coming January 31st at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.  At just 24 years old, Pacio has risen to the top of ONE’s stacked strawweight division, thanks to notable wins over top tier competition such as former champions Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Yoshitaka Naito, and Yosuke Saruta, as well as contenders Rene Catalan and Pongsiri Mitsatit.  2019 proved to be a very formative year for the young Filipino star, as he lost, reclaimed, and defended the ONE Strawweight World Championship, all within 12 months.  Pacio opened 2019 with a controversial split decision defeat to Saruta in January to relinquish the 56.7-kilogram division’s top prize, but in the immediate rematch just three months later, Pacio went on to reclaim the title in highlight-reel fashion, knocking out Saruta with a head kick in the fourth round. To close out 2019, Pacio successfully defended his title for the first time with a dominant all-around display leading to a second-round arm triangle submission victory over fellow Filipino Catalan. “I am a World Champion now,” Pacio said, after finally getting a title defense under his belt. “All I can say is that all the sacrifices and hard work really paid off for us. I feel it now because I have defended the title.” As dominant as his win over Catalan was, Pacio let it be known that he would be ‘going back to the drawing board’ to continue improving even more, with hopes of a quick return to action to defend his championship once more.  Roughly two months after his successful title defense, Pacio heads back to the ONE Championship stage, and this time he faces the only other former ONE Strawweight World Champion that he has yet to defeat in Silva.  The Brazilian grappler out of Evolve MMA is coming off back-to-back submission wins over Peng Xue Wen and Stefer Rahardian.  Silva, a third-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, is 13 years Pacio’s senior, but the defending champion will be coming in with significantly more experience in the mixed martial arts arena.  In his title defense against the 40-year old Catalan, Pacio was able to show that in mixed martial arts, age is nothing but a number, and “The Passion” is looking to prove that once more against the 37-year old Silva.  “They call me a young phenom for a reason,” Pacio said. “I need to prove that.” Apart from defending his title for a second time, Pacio is also looking to keep his Mall of Asia Arena record spotless. When competing in the 15,000-seater stadium, Pacio is an impressive 6-0. Joining Pacio on the card will be Team Lakay teammates Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Danny “The King” Kingad, Lito “Thunder Kid”  Adiwang, and Gina “Conviction” Iniong, setting up what could be another memorable night for the Philippines’ top mixed martial arts stable.  Folayang, the former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion, battles The Netherlands’ Pieter Buist in the co-main event, while ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship Finalist Kingad returns to action against China’s Xie Wei in a featured bout. Adiwang, meanwhile, will look to capitalize on his successful debut when he faces Thai veteran Pongsiri Mitsatit, and Iniong, fresh off a successful gold medal run at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, returns to action to face India’s Asha Roka......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2020

New Stars and New Eras: A look back at MMA in 2019

2019 was once again a pretty eventful year in terms of mixed martial arts, especially on the local front. In 2019, we saw Pinoy stars rise and fall, and some have managed to rise again before the decade’s end. Before we look forward to 2020, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest storylines in the world of Filipino, Asian and international mixed martial arts.   Team Lakay’s Troubles 2019 kicked off with not one, not two, but five world champions from the famed Filipino MMA stable Team Lakay. Pinoy MMA icon Eduard Folayang was on his second run as the ONE Lightweight World Champion, Kevin Belingon was enjoying his status as the ONE Bantamweight World Champion, Geje Eustaquio reigned over the flyweight division as the ONE Flyweight World Champion, and rising star Joshua Pacio, the ONE Strawweight World Champion, was the team’s youngest titleholder. Outside ONE, Stephen Loman continued on his reign as the BRAVE CF Bantamweight World Champion. And then, the dominoes began to fall. Pacio was the first to drop his title, losing a close split decision to Japan’s Yosuke Saruta. Eustaquio followed suit, dropping a controversial decision to rival Adriano Moraes, and then Folayang and Belingon would also lose their titles in heartbreaking fashion at ONE: A New Era in Japan. It was, to say the least, a rough start to the year for the Benguet-based team, but they would manage to bounce back before the year was done, with Folayang and Eustaquio both claiming wins to end the year.   The Rise of "The Passion" 23-year old prodigy Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was the youngest member of Team Lakay to hold a title heading into 2019, and heading into 2020, he remains the lone member of  Team Lakay to hold a ONE world title. After losing to Yosuke Saruta in January, Pacio was granted an immediate rematch and made good on the second opportunity by blasting Saruta with a head kick to score the KO and reclaim the ONE Strawweight World Championship. Pacio would then take on the clear-cut number one contender in fellow Pinoy Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan, and make quick work of him as well, scoring a second-round submission win to retain the title. Even before the end of the year, Pacio already has his next assignment, as he’s set to face former champion Alex Silva at ONE: Fire and Fury in Manila on January 31st. A win for Pacio cements his status as one of, if not, the best ONE strawweight ever. While Team Lakay’s 2019 was, for the most part, a struggle, Pacio was no doubt the Team’s brightest spot.   A New Era 2019 proved to be another milestone year for Asia-based martial arts promotion ONE Championship, as they were able to penetrate new markets in terms of live shows as well as broadcast deals. ONE began the year with a new partnership with Turner Broadcasting, which gave North American fans access to ONE’s brand of martial arts through B/R Live and TNT. In terms of live events, ONE was able to finally plant their flag in one of the biggest markets for MMA in the world, Japan. In March, ONE put on their first ever show in Japan, ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, which featured some of the promotion’s biggest names including  Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Angela Lee, Aung La N Sang, Eduard Folayang, and many more. To celebrate their historic 100th event, ONE returned to Tokyo for ONE: Century, their biggest card ever, featuring seven world title bouts and the promotion’s biggest stars, and then some.   In 2020, ONE plans to break through to even more new markets, possible including a show in the United States.   The ‘Return’ of Jon Jones While Jon Jones officially reclaimed his spot at the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division in December of 2018, it was in 2019 that he returned to his dominant ways. After stopping Alexander Gustafsson in 2018 to reclaim the UFC Light Heavyweight crown, Jones handily defeated tough challengers in Anthony Smith and Thiago “Maretta” Santos to retain the titles. While the Smith and Santos bouts were lackluster in the eyes of many, it showed that even on his bad days, Jon Jones is better than most people on their best days.   “Rush” Retires Again While it was something that was expected, 37-year old Georges St-Pierre officially retired from MMA, again, in February. The former long-time welterweight king and pound-for-pound great made a triumphant return to the UFC in 2017, dethroning Michael Bisping to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion. GSP would never get to defend the title, as he would relinquish it not long after due to concerns with ulcerative colitis. While GSP has remained inactive since, the whispers of a super-fight with reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov remain present, and 2020 could possibly see that coming to fruition.   Grand Prix Greatness In 2019, ONE Championship introduced a new and exciting attraction, the ONE Lightweight and Flyweight World Grand Prix tournaments.  Eight of the best fighters from each division would battle it out in a tournament-style competition, and the winner would become the ONE World Grand Prix Champion and earn a title shot against the division's respective titleholder.  Making their debuts in the lightweight and flyweight tournaments were former UFC champs Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson respectively, and as it played out the two would have very different outcomes.  Alvarez saw himself get upset in the quarterfinals by Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin. The former UFC lightweight king would get another chance in the tournament after defeating Eduard Folayang in a last-minute semifinal matchup, but another injury would keep him out of the finale at ONE: Century in Tokyo. Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee ended up stepping in on short notice to defeat tournament favorite Saygid Guseyn Arslanalieve and become a double-champion.  Johnson, meanwhile, breezed through his quarterfinals and semifinals bouts to set up a finale showdown with Filipino star Danny Kingad. In the Finale, Kingad fought valiantly but ultimately fell to Johnson via Unanimous Decision, setting up a must-see matchup between DJ and reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in 2020.    Baddest Motherf**ker Jorge Masdival has long been a staple in the UFC’s lightweight ranks for years, but it wasn’t until 2019 that “Gamebred” made headlines. After a hiatus in 2018, Masvidal returned with a bang in 2019, knocking out former title challenger Darren Till, and then followed that up with a 5-second flying knee knockout over former ONE Welterweight king Ben Askren. The popularity and momentum that Masvidal had garnered was enough to bring a certain Stockton star out of retirement and that set up one of the most talked-about UFC title bouts in 2019: Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz for the title of Baddest Motherf**ker. Masvidal lived up to the name and pieced Diaz up with strikes in the early rounds, before eventually opening up a cut that was just too big for the fight to go on. Much to the dismay of Masvidal, Diaz, and the crowd in New York, the fight was stopped. Still, it was nothing short of a testament to just how dangerous the new and improved version of Jorge Masvidal is. Expect him to challenge for a title in 2020.   MMA stars shine in 2019 SEA Games A number of Pinoy mixed martial artists showcased their skills in different battlegrounds during the recently-concluded 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which was held in the Philippines. from November 30 to December 11. Reigning URCC champion Mark “Mugen” Striegl took home gold in Combat Sambo, while former ONE title challenger Rene Catalan settled for Silver after an injury dashed his dreams of getting gold. Another URCC veteran in Ariel Lee Lampacan also took home SEA Games gold, this time in the Muay Thai competition. ONE Super Series veteran Ryan Jakiri took home silver. The SEA Games kickboxing event saw three MMA stars from Team Lakay take home gold medals, as Gina Iniong, Jerry Olsim, and Jean Claude Saclag all reigned over their respective divisions. Iniong, of course, is a ONE Women’s Atomweight contender, while Olsim is a veteran of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series. Saclag, meanwhile, is one of Team Lakay’s representatives in the Japan-based promotion Shooto.       .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2019

ONE Championship: Andun pa yung fire - Eduard Folayang highly motivated as he begins his comeback

After absorbing back-to-back defeats for just the second time in his professional mixed martial arts career, Filipino star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang once again finds himself on the comeback trail as he tries to once again have his hand raised in victory inside the ONE Circle.  The former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion dropped the title to Shinya Aoki in the first defense of his second run as champion back in March, and then followed that up with a loss to Eddie Alvarez in August.  At 34 years of age, there really isn’t much left for Folayang to prove. A professional since 2007, Folayang has a respectable 21-8 professional record which includes championships in regional promotions and two world championship runs under the ONE banner. As it stands, he is already the face of Filipino MMA.  If he were to, say, hang his gloves up and dedicate his life to coaching future champions from Team Lakay, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would take it against him.  Yet, Folayang is gearing up for a return to action at ONE: Masters of Fate this coming Friday, November 8th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines. He faces Mongolian up-and-comer Amarsanaa “Spear” Tsogookhu in the co-main event. When asked what keeps him motivated, even after back-to-back losses, the former Philippine Wushu National Team Member and multiple-time SEA Games gold medalist says that he believes there’s still a lot for him to show.  “Yung pakiramdam na alam mong mayroon ka pang potential, hindi mo pa nai-uunleash yung full potential mo, yun yung parang nagpapalakas sa akin, na hindi pa dapat mag-give up, kasi still, andun parin yung fire na mag-rise up again,” Folayang told ABS-CBN Sports. “I think purposely, inallow ni God [yung mga losses ko] para makita ko yung mga areas na kailangan kong ayusin and yung mga pagkakamali talaga na kailangan kong iwasan sa mga future bouts ko.” For Folayang, the Alvarez bout in Manila last August is one that stung quite a bit.  A former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion, Alvarez’s signing with ONE was met with lots of hype and anticipation. As early as then, a potential matchup with Folayang was already something that fans of the Asian martial arts promotion were intrigued to see.  When the bout was finally going to take place, it was billed as a must-see matchup between two of the division’s biggest stars.  Indeed, the bout lived up to the hype as it included a little bit of everything that a fight fan would want to see. Folayang, a striking expert, was the more aggressive fighter on the feet and was able to use his best weapon - his tree-trunk legs - to do damage and chop Alvarez down.  Once he had dropped “The Underground King” Folayang went in for the kill, and that eagerness to get the finish was what ultimately led to the Pinoy hero’s downfall in the match.  While obviously hurt by the chopping leg kick he had absorbed just moments earlier, Alvarez remained composed as he tried to survive the landslide of strikes coming from Folayang. The American found his opening and flipped Folayang over for the reversal before taking the Filipino’s back and finally getting the Rear Naked Choke Submission, forcing the hometown bet to tap out.  “Gina-gauge ko yung sarili ko eh, alam mo yun? Yung expectations ko sa kanya, hindi ganun eh. Sobrang taas, tapos nung laglaban kami, naramdaman ko, pero siyempre, nakalimutan ko siguro na magaling din siya sa ground, or either nang-gigil ako na gusto kong tumayo ulit para tapusin na namin yung laban sa taas,” Folayang explained.  “Siguro yun yung naging mga pagkakamali ko that time, na ayaw ko maulit. Hindi ako naging composed sa sarili ko, nakalimutan ko na yung laban ay mixed martial arts, kung saan lahat ng angle, kapag dun ka kinuha, kahit nananalo ka na sa isang area, hindi yun yung laban eh. Yung laban ay yung kung natapos na. Siguro yun yung parang nakita ko na nagkamali ako,” he added.  Had Folayang won, he would have advanced to the Finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan.  Alvarez ultimately pulled out after an injury had barred him from competing in the finale against Turkey’s Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev. Arslanaliev ultimately lost to Christian Lee, who stepped in as Alvarez’s replacement.  Throughout his career, Folayang has had some rather heartbreaking losses, but the Alvarez one has to be up there as one of the most, especially since he was quite dominant in the opening moments of the bout.  Folayang admits that it took quite a bit for him to get over that.  “Hindi [ako agad naka-get over] eh, kasi everytime, may makaka-salubong na na ireremind sayo, ‘Sayang!’ yung ganun,” But it was also that bout against Alvarez - specifically that sequence that nearly ended the fight in his favor - that somehow made him realize what he is still capable of.   “Dun ko din talaga nakita na, kung yung ganung level ni Alvarez, sa kalakasan niya, nasurpass ko, I think mayroon pa talaga eh. Hindi ko pa talaga nare-reach yung full potential ko eh, may mas maipapakita pa ako na mas magandang performance, lalo na kapag idinagdag ko yung mga experience ko na kagaya nung mga ganung experience.” To help move past the loss, Folayang returned to the gym to help his teammates who were getting ready for their big matches in Tokyo.  Hardly taking any damage in the loss to Alvarez, Folayang was pretty much in shape to get back in action, and a small window of opportunity appeared when it was announced that Alvarez had pulled out.  According to ONE Championship Chairman Chatri Sityodtong, Folayang was the first option to replace Alvarez, but with just around two weeks left before fight night, visa issues prevented the Filipino star from stepping in, opening the door for Lee to do so.  “Siyempre, hindi naman natin alam kung ano yung mangyayari, kasi professional na tayo, kailangan lagi parin tayong handa, although siyempre, yung nasa utak natin talaga ay gusto natin lumaban, kaya nagte-training pa din. So nung sinabi yung late replacement kay Dagi, nag-oo ako, pero unfortunately, hindi talaga siguro time,” Folayang said.  The time for Folayang’s comeback, as it turns out, was the month after.  Facing a relatively unknown opponent in Tsogookhu, Folayang has the chance to get back on track and pick up a solid win, but it could also prove to be a high-risk challenge, as Tsogookhu was impressive in his debut against veteran Shannon Wiratchai.  Folayang says that he fully understands the risk behind the fight, but to be able to get back to the top of the division, he must be able to face risk head on.  “Yun yung maganda sa MMA, the more na naiintindihan mo na it’s high risk, alam mo yun. Kasi kahit sabihin mo na more experienced ka, kung mag-commit ka ng single mistake, kakainin ka eh, so, yun. We are fighters, as much as possible, kung sino man yung mag-sstand dun sa way natin, kailangan natin i-face para makabalik tayo doon sa inaasam natin.”   Catch ONE: MASTERS OF FATE live on Friday, November 8th LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 on LIVESTREAM via the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page and on iWant starting at 8:30 PM. ONE: MASTERS OF FATE will also air on Sunday's Best on November 17th, Sunday, at 11:30 PM with local commentatry from Anton Roxas and Theo Castillo  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2019

Team Lakay s Gina Iniong and Joshua Pacio: Two paths, one goal

Lakay. It is the Ilocano word for old man.   But when you go up to Baguio, it has an altogether different meaning. You cannot miss that word when you drive down Benguet road, on a nifty sign attached to a normal-looking office building: Team Lakay.   The home of the best Philippine mixed martial arts team in history. Almost all of the big names local fight fans have come to cheer and love as our modern-day heroes trace their roots to the relatively small, packed training room down Benguet road, where mats are soaked with the sweat of the fighters.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Rey Docyogen, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Mark Eddiva are all hallowed names in the annals of Philippine mixed martial arts, disciples of Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, who established, and groomed Team Lakay to the fearsome fighting factory that it is today.   While all the names above have ensconced themselves on pedestals, Team Lakay’s pipeline includes two more who have been fighting for recognition in recent fights: lone female fighter Gina Iniong, and ONE’s current Strawweight lynchpin and youngest champion, Joshua Pacio.   Both fighters may have started their professional fighting careers for different reasons, but Iniong and Pacio still have a lot to offer and prove for mixed martial arts in the country and in the international stage, such as being prominent fighters in the prestigious cage of ONE Championship.   CHANCE OF A LIFETIME   Gina, the first female Filipino mixed martial artist to fight and win abroad, started boxing back in high school as part of her after-school activities. When she was about to graduate, she actively sought scholarships in order to finish her education. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of an athletic scholarship, concentrating on the martial art of Wushu, which has a huge following in her hometown of Baguio City, with the University of the Cordilleras having a team of its own.   “Our former boxing coach, who was a former student of Coach Mark (Sangiao), approached me one day, telling me to join the upcoming wushu competition then for the college scholarship. So I joined it, and took a chance,” Iniong shared, recounting how she got into the world of combat sports as a young lady.   However, it was too good to be true, as she had to hurdle quite a huge problem if she wants that scholarship: a fight record. Sangiao told the young Iniong it would be difficult to get her a scholarship if she does not have a record to show in active combat in Wushu.   “I was lucky because there was a Wushu National Games here in Manila and we immediately went down and made our way there. Thankfully, I got the gold after the competition, and that paved the way for my scholarship,” said Iniong.   From there, the “Conviction” was born. After competing in numerous Wushu tournaments, Iniong finally caught the eye of Sangiao, who decided to take her under his wings and train her to be his female version inside the MMA cage.   After debuting in the Universal Reality Combat Championship in 2010, Iniong hasn’t looked back in the 12 bouts she has figured in, compiling a professional record of 8-4.  As the lone female representative of the most-successful mixed martial arts team in the Philippines, she has displayed that trademark fearsome striking prowess of fighters coming from the Lakay camp.   When asked about the fact that she is one of the only five Filipinas making the country proud inside the ONE cage, the 29-year old’s face lit up, in disbelief, in honor, in humility, for she cannot believe it herself.   “I’m very proud, and humbled, of the fact that I am the lone female fighter representing Team Lakay in ONE Championship. Many very skilled female fighters dream of being part of ONE Championship, and fight under Team Lakay, yet I am the one that Coach Mark has seen with the most potential to carry the flag inside the cage,” she said.   However, what drives Gina to fight, and it has been a well-known fact, is her mother, diagnosed with a stage 5 chronic kidney disease. In her fight against Jihin Radzuan last February, Iniong dedicated the fight to her mother, who to this day, is scared of seeing her daughter mix it up in the ring.   “To this day, she hasn’t watched me fight live, not even on TV because she is quite the nervous person, and she would only watch if she knew I won, during replays. She is very unlike my dad, who has fully supported my life as an athlete, after being a boxer himself in his younger days,” she shared.   CHALLENGE ACCEPTED   Joshua “The Passion” Pacio never intended to make mixed martial arts fighting a career growing up. The 23-year old fighter deemed it impossible back then, to reach a stage as huge as ONE Championship, due to the excellence of the fighters that he used to watch with his uncle through videos.   Add to the fact that Pacio was overweight. Obese, specifically. It made it all the more difficult for the kid to follow his dream and passion to be a fighter.   It all changed when his uncle started training him in Muay Thai, the art of the eight limbs that originated from Thailand, and considered one of the deadliest forms of combat striking. It started out as training just for fitness, but as if seeing a tiny ray of light in a dark tunnel, Pacio wanted more.   “At first, it was only for fitness, with my uncle training me, and watching videos of various MMA fights, which really inspired me to push myself harder. I really wanted to test myself, compete with the best, and it all seemed impossible when I was out of shape. My uncle really pushed me starting with Muay Thai. I started competing a few months after that, but I suffered defeat after defeat in amateur competitions. I questioned myself why I still trained afterwards. But at the same time, that’s when I realized that this is really my passion, that even if I lost my last fight,” shared the ONE Championship Strawweight king, who has not looked back since then.   “The goal for me has ever been to prove to myself that I have improved in skills, and be the best fighter I can be,” Pacio added.   He made his ONE debut three years ago, finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of professional mixed martial arts, facing a more experienced Filipino fighter in Robin Catalan at the age of 20, one of the youngest to enter ONE’s cage.   “Before I got to represent Team Lakay in ONE Championship, the roster spot was actually up for grabs. Fighters of the team figured in a Team Lakay Championship, a grand-prix style tournament within the team, for the ONE Championship contract. I fought twice victoriously in one night to get it. Two weeks later, with a ONE Championship event in Manila, that’s when I found out I am making my professional debut,” said an astounded Pacio.   Everything about the man they call “The Passion” has been hard earned. He finally tasted gold last 2018 when he decisioned the famed Yoshitaka Naito, a Japanese ground and wrestling master that forced Pacio to tap via a rear-naked choke when they first met. Facing, and losing to Naito, according to Pacio, was a revelation that he has to improve his overall skills, especially his ground game in order to play with the big boys of the cage.   Striking will definitely get you somewhere, as is with Pacio’s base as a martial artist, but one has to have more tricks up his sleeve when they aspire for the pinnacle of the competition. Joshua came back with a vengeance in 2018 to show “Nobita” that “The Passion” is no longer the young kid who will be submitted easily.   However, 2019 did not start of great for Pacio and Team Lakay, after he lost the belt in January to Naito’s contemporary in Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta in a questionable split decision. But that did not deter the young man, who has made it his personal goal to continue improving and treat each loss as a lesson, in ONE Championship’s “Roots of Honor” fight card, where he faced Saruta once more.   This time, in front of a racous Filipino crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena, Pacio did not let the judges’ cards decide as he detonated a right knee to the side of Saruta’s head late in the fourth round to reclaim his throne. The dreaded Team Lakay striking power knocked the lights out from the Japanese fighter as Baguio’s young lion let out a furious roar to celebrate his redemption.   TWO PATHS, ONE GOAL   One did it for education, the other for health. Nowadays, however, MMA means more to Iniong and Pacio than just a stepping stone to something else. It is their passion, their advocacy, their bread and butter.   They continue to grind each day, waiting for another opportunity to show what they got and get the win, not just for personal glory, but also for the country and their family.   Inspired by her ailing mother, the “Conviction” promises to keep her current winning streak up despite being up against a formidable foe in her next match. After tasting defeat from Brazilian Istela Nunes, Iniong bounced back with a split decision over Radzuan last February to get herself back on track. Right now, Gina has one thing in mind with their goal: chase that ONE Women’s Atomweight division title, currently held by Angela Lee, and become the Philippines’ very first female ONE world champion.   However, Iniong acknowledges that the path towards the gold may not be easy, as she is currently eyeing a rematch with Japanese tormentor Mei Yamaguchi, the number one-ranked Atomweight fighter whom she has fought with twice, in order to settle who the rightful challenger to Lee’s belt is.   “Everyone has gotten belts. My big brothers in the team have tasted championship. I felt jealous because I do not have a belt, and lost my fight that would have given me a title shot. This time, I will make sure that I will do my best to secure a title fight,” rued Iniong in a previous interview with ONE Championship prior to fighting Radzuan.   While Iniong wants hit paydirt, it’s all about keeping the belt on his waist for Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight champion. His most probable foe is his nemesis Yoshitaka Naito who he does not have a problem with facing for the third time.   “I really want to prove I am the champion, and if it’s by facing him (Naito), so be it. I also want to prove that I have greatly improved as well from the last time we fought,” he shared.   While Iniong and Pacio await their next fighting assignment, their teammates are in the thick of training for the upcoming “Dawn of Heroes” megafight card happening on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It features Team Lakay members, led by Edward “Landslide” Folayang, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face the best of the world as represented by Eddie Alvarez, Reece McLaren, and Yuya Wakamatsu.   The entire country will be cheering on them as the whole world watches. And maybe somehow, somewhere there will be new blood encouraged and inspired by them to take on the challenge of continuing the legacy of the nation’s best fighting team alongside Iniong and Pacio.   After all, Sangiao did not establish Team Lakay just to be some Bagiuo-based fitness gym down Benguet road. He made Team Lakay to provide a home, a family, for young Filipinos who have the heart to fight for their dream, their family, and the country.     Watch “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, to be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD with livestreaming on iWant for all the Pinoy fight fans to see. For more stories and news one ONE Championship, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019

LIVE: Folayang, Donayre fight in ONE Defending Honor

SINGAPORE — Can Team Lakay's Eduard Folayang finally become a World Champion?.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 11th, 2016

ONE Championship CEO calls Folayang vs. Aoki a 'superfight'

Friday night, arguably the best homegrown Filipino mixed martial artists finally gets a shot at world championship gold when Team Lakay's Eduard 'The Landslide' Folayang challenges Japanese champion Shinya 'The Tobikan Judan' Aoki for the ONE Championsh.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2016

Folayang: Teaching an honorable profession

Tow-time former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the famed Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines is one of the most explosively talented mixed martial artists in the world. But before he ever stepped foot inside the ONE Circle, Folayang excelled in a much different arena. He guided the nation’s youth as a High School teacher......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 5th, 2020

Folayang: Denice has what it takes to be world champ

Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang sees a bright future for unbeaten Filipina strawweight Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga, who has taken ONE Championship by storm since her debut in 2019.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2020

Pacio joins Team Lakay mountain biking craze

Team Lakay is hands down the most prolific martial arts team in the Philippines. With well-known and established stars such as former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, and former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon leading the pack, Team Lakay is the absolute elite in Asian martial arts......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020

Folayang determined to meet Alvarez again

Ask former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang who he wants to face next and it’ll take only seconds for the Filipino to respond......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 11th, 2020

ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang also interested in Christian Lee matchup

Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee made it known that former two-time titleholder and Filipino MMA icon Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is someone that’s on his radar.  “I would love to share the ONE Circle with Eduard Folayang. I have a lot of respect for all that he’s accomplished in his career, and I think that we could put on a great show for the fans,” said the 22-year old Singaporean-American.  For his part, Folayang also had nothing but praise for the young lightweight king, who began his ONE Championship career at the age of 17.  Folayang, who can be considered as one of the pioneer stars of ONE Championship, says he has witnessed the evolution of Lee.  “I am very impressed with his improvements,” Folayang told ONE Championship. “I saw his growth as an athlete.”  In Lee’s 16-fight career, he has beaten numerous notable names including Kotetsu Boku, Shinya Aoki, and Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev.  Folayang knows that a matchup against Lee would definitely be a tough one, but he’s more than open to the challenge.  “It’s going to be a very challenging match if I face Christian Lee. I know I am still far from a World Title match, but in the future, I look forward to facing him,” Folayang stated. Folayang will indeed have to work his way back to the top of the heap in terms of lightweight contenders, having lost three of his last four bouts.  “It will be a big challenge for me if we face each other. I want to face him, and I hope he remains the champ by then,” he continued. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2020

Folayang responds to Lee& rsquo;s challenge

Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang recently responded to a call out made by reigning division king Christian “The Warrior” Lee......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 6th, 2020

ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang wants Eddie Alvarez rematch

In August of 2019, Filipino mixed martial arts icon and two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang came painfully close to recording what would have been the biggest win of his MMA career when he faced former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez in a high-stakes lightweight matchup.  The winner would earn a spot in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Finals against Turkey’s Saygid Guseyn “Dagi” Arslanaliev at ONE: CENTURY in Tokyo, Japan, later that year.  Early in the first round, it looked like Folayang was on his way to Tokyo after chopping Alvarez down with a nasty leg kick that obviously hurt the American star.  What followed suit however, was a heartbreaking turn of events for Folayang, and an impeccable comeback from Alvarez.  Looking to finish Alvarez off, Folayang pounced and began raining down heavy shot after heavy shot. Alvarez meanwhile, covered up and then waited for his opportunity to reverse things. Alvarez flipped Folayang over, took his back, and locked in the rear naked choke for the first-round submission win.  Folayang admitted to rushing things as he was a tad bit too excited to get the finish.  (READ ALSO: WHAT IF: Eduard Folayang had stopped Eddie Alvarez back in 2019?) Now, looking to make his way back up to the top of the lightweight ladder, Folayang hopes to be able to draw another meeting with Alvarez.  “[If I could face anybody], it’s definitely Eddie Alvarez,” Folayang told ONE Championship’s Christian Jacinto. “I want to face him again.” As he had said before, Folayang acknowledges that he could have done a lot of things better in their first encounter.  “Back in our match, I had a lot of regrets, I made a lot of mistakes…If given the chance, I believe my performance would be a whole lot better,” the Team Lakay star stated.  “I definitely got careless in that match. We expected Eddie to be more of a striker, so I was confident when the match hit the ground,” he continued.  Indeed, Alvarez has been known to be a brawler, which has helped him become a crowd favorite during his time in the UFC and in Bellator.  Against Folayang however, Alvarez - who’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Ricardo Almeida - let his grappling and his experience shine.  In the past, Folayang has shown that he can hold his own against some dangerous grapplers, as evidenced by his stunning world title win against former champion Shinya Aoki back in 2016.  Folayang hopes that he can channel that same level of defense again if and when he gets to share the cage with Alvarez again.  “If there would be a rematch, I’d address my issues in the ground, and hopefully, I’ll be better this time around.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2020

Folayang replies to ONE prodigy Lee& rsquo;s Challenge

Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee said that he wants to test himself against former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang sometime in the future.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2020

ONE Champ Christian Lee open to fight with former titleholder Eduard Folayang

Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee may be young, but he’s proven throughout his career that he won’t back down from a challenge.  In early 2019, the 22-year old jumped up to the lightweight division and survived an early onslaught from grappling ace and former two-time world champion Shinya Aoki to dethrone the Japanese legend and become the new lightweight king.  Later that year, Lee stepped up on short notice to take on surging knockout artist Saygid Guseyn “Dagi” Arslanaliev in the finals of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix. Lee would stifle Dagi and end up winning the tournament.  Now, Lee gets ready to take on all comers as the top dog in one of ONE Championship’s most stacked divisions.  Up next for the Singaporean star is expected to be undefeated Moldovian challenger Iuri Lapicus, who took out Thai veteran Shannon Wiratchai and former featherweight world champion Marat Gafurov to earn a shot at ONE gold.  For Lee however, he’s ready for anyone that steps up to him.  “I will defend my belt against anyone, anytime. The lightweight division is the most stacked division in ONE Championship, so I feel like it will only be right to start with the number one contender and work my way down until my division is cleared out,” Lee told ONE Championship.  While not currently in the top-5 of the lightweight division, former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion and Filipino MMA icon Eduard “Landslide” Folayang appears to be on the radar of the champion as well.  “I would love to share the ONE Circle with Eduard Folayang,” Lee shared. “I have a lot of respect for all that he’s accomplished in his career, and I think that we could put on a great show for the fans.” Folayang first captured the ONE Lightweight World Championship back in 2016, stunning the world with an upset win over Aoki, becoming the first man to dethrone the Japanese star. In late-2018, Folayang bested top lightweight contender Amir Khan for the vacant world championship.  “Eduard is a very good striker, and is now rounding out his wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu,” Lee added. “However, I feel that his main strengths are his heart and his killer instinct. He’s the two-time former ONE Lightweight World Champion, so he doesn’t have many weaknesses. I think he’s a great fighter.” Another name that Lee mentioned is former UFC Lightweight World Champion Eddie Alvarez, who’s one of the biggest names on ONE’s lightweight roster.  “Eddie [Alvarez] has done enough in his career to make him a legend of this sport, so I would love to share the ONE Circle with him when the time comes. I think that our styles would make for an exciting fight for the fans,” said Lee. Alvarez has split his first two outings under the ONE banner, losing to Russian star Timofey Nastyukhin in his debut before bouncing back and submitting Folayang.  (READ ALSO: WHAT IF: Eduard Folayang had stopped Eddie Alvarez back in 2019?) “I think that Eddie is a very well-rounded mixed martial artist. He has great striking, wrestling, and just recently displayed great Jiu-Jitsu in his last outing against Eduard Folayang. He’s a very complete fighter who does not have too many weaknesses. It would be a big mistake to underestimate his skill set,” Lee continued.  Ultimately, Lee’s plan is to clear out the lightweight division before going back down to featherweight and rekindle an old rivalry against reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.  Lee and Nguyen have crossed paths twice before, with Nguyen coming out on top both times.  “After I successfully defend my belt, I plan on going back down to featherweight to challenge Martin Nguyen for his title,” said Lee. “I am the reigning and undisputed ONE Lightweight World Champion, and also the number one contender in the featherweight division. The only reason I go back down to featherweight will be to fight for the title.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2020

Four champion martial artists who are also champion dads

Father’s Day comes but once a year, and is a time to celebrate the incredible patriarchs in our lives who have guided us through our toughest challenges. They are the foundation of every family, working tirelessly through day and night to make sure the people they love are happy and safe. This Father’s Day, let’s honor the men in our lives who embody strength, discipline, and loyalty. Great fathers provide their children with a feeling of security, both physically and emotionally, but aren’t afraid to let them stumble and fall in order for them to learn the lessons they need to make it through life.  These four men have given their children the gift of martial arts, but more importantly have also proven to be amazing dads. Ken Lee Brazilian jiu-jitsu and taekwondo black belt, Ken Lee, introduced martial arts to his children at a young age because he believes it can help develop them into great fighters, not just in competition, but also in life. Together with his wife Jewelz -- also a champion martial artist -- they’ve raised four incredible children, including reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, and ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee. Their two youngest children, Adrian and Victoria, are both on their way to following in their footsteps. Needless to say, martial arts is the family tradition. “Martial arts has always been a way of life for my family,” said Lee. But as much as he is the powerful voice in each of his children’s corners whenever they compete, Lee takes pride in being their father first and foremost. Guiding their careers, he says, is only his second priority. “I will always be their father first and coach second. As a father, the most important thing for me when it comes to my children is their safety and good health, that they are happy and able to live their dreams,” said Lee. Mark Sangiao Filipino martial arts icon Mark “The Machine” Sangiao is a well-known pioneer in the Philippines’ local martial arts community. He is a loving father to two boys, and a father-figure to his students in the famed Team Lakay. Many seek Sangiao out for his wisdom, not just in competing at the highest levels of martial arts, but also for his experience in traversing the hardships of life. The principles he imparts on his two sons, and many young Team Lakay athletes who could very well be considered his own children, have helped guide them down the right path. “As a father, what matters most for me when it comes to my children is providing them what they need,” said Sangiao.  “I’m not just referring to their material or financial needs, but most importantly giving enough attention to their emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being. It is essential that I can provide these to my children, because these are the very core of their development and formation as good and responsible people.” Sangiao has cultivated and developed many world champions, including former titleholders Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Geje Eustaquio, and Kevin Belingon, as well as ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio. While his eldest son Jhanlo has decided to take after his father in becoming a martial artist, Sangiao says he would support his children regardless of their chosen profession. “I may end up raising a martial artist, a gardener, a businessman, a lawyer -- it doesn’t matter. I will raise them the exact same way. I will support whatever they want to be in life, and what they want for their future. I just want to raise my children to be good, strong, and responsible people,” said Sangiao. Eduard Folayang For two-time former ONE Lightweight World Champion and Team Lakay veteran Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, being a father means imparting his wisdom to his children, and helping them become good members of society. Folayang is a proud father to two young girls, and hopes to instill in them the right values and principles. “I think we have to give our children the right principles to live by. They must be strong in both the body and the mind, but also kind and generous,” said Folayang. While he will support his children no matter what they decide to do when they get older, Folayang still plans on introducing them to martial arts, which is what helped turn his life around as a young man raised in hardship and poverty. “Being a father feels great. I do want my children to practice martial arts. It’s a great way of life and will teach them a lot of lessons. I just want them to find their own talents and help make the world a better place,” said Folayang. Danny Kingad Former ONE World Title challenger and ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship Finalist Danny “The King” Kingad is relatively new to fatherhood, with his son Gleurdan Adrian becoming his pride and joy after being born just two years ago.  Being a father, Kingad says, is his single greatest purpose, and he vows to do everything in his power to give his son a good life. “I want to spend every day with my son. It’s important to me to be there for him. I want to help prepare him for the challenges life will bring,” said Kingad. Kingad grew up a troubled youth who fell into bad company and many vices. It wasn’t until he discovered martial arts that his life gained meaning and direction. He hopes to one day introduce martial arts to Gleurdan, when his son is ready. “Martial arts was a saving grace for me, and I learned a lot from training and competing. I would love for my son to learn the core values that martial arts instilled in me when I was younger. I think it will teach him a lot about respect and honor. But of course, I’m here to support my son in whatever he wants to be in life,” said Kingad. “What’s important to me is that he learns to be humble and respectful, and most especially strong, to be able to handle tough times. Having a strong mind is the best asset of a martial artist.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2020