ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang has defeated Shinya Aoki once, and if he’s going to remain champion and capture a victory in the main event of the historic ONE: A NEW ERA show, he’ll have to do it again.
On 31 March, ONE travels to Aoki’s home country of Japan for one of the biggest martial arts event of the year. Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki have the honor of competing in the featured match of the night.
If Folayang is to emerge victoriously, he has to do the following five things.
Tune The Crowd Out
Eduard Folayang is a popular athlete — particularly in The Philippines — but make no mistake about it, the crowd will back their countryman, Aoki.
Folayang will be competing in his opponent’s backyard, so he’ll need to tune out the cheers, and to fight off the momentum Aoki may establish on the energy of his supporters.
Stop The Takedown
Aoki doesn’t attempt to trick his opponents. They all know what he wants to do, but the problem is, most cannot stop Aoki from taking them down.
Once the battle is on the ground, Aoki’s world-class jiu-jitsu game is oftentimes overwhelming. If Folayang is to win the rematch, he needs to keep things standing. The longer this bout stays on the feet, the more chances Folayang has to retain his belt.
Get Back To His Feet If He’s Taken Down
Sometimes, takedowns will still occur, even when an athlete does his or her best to keep the bout standing. Other times, the action can spill to the canvas after a body clash or stumble.
No matter how it happens, if Eduard Folayang finds himself on the canvas, he has to work to get to his feet as soon as possible–even if he is on top.
Aoki is so dangerous on the ground, it would be wise for Folayang to resist the urge to try to dish damage while in the challenger’s guard. Aoki has the skill to change the tenor of a match in a heartbeat if he can secure a submission hold.
This is a lot more likely if Folayang takes and follows the action to the ground.
In the first bout, Aoki seemed to wear down later in the contest. The fatigue may have had something to do with the body shots Folayang was landing. Folayang never panicked, despite losing most of the early moments in the match. He stayed consistent and came away with the TKO win.
Don’t Get Caught Up In The Moment
Eduard Folayang has competed in some major events during his long career, but the atmosphere in Japan on 31 March may even be a new experience for him. If the moment gets the better of him, there are a number of adverse effects that can happen.
If Folayang is to retain, he must maintain his poise, even if things go wrong early in the bout. During their first meeting, Aoki was seemingly in control until Folayang landed a well-placed knee that hurt the Japanese superstar.
When Folayang found his opportunity, he took advantage of it and won the title for the first time. He may need to do something similar in the rematch.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/11/2019.