AFTER Eduard Folayang’s spectacular victory over Shinya Aoki to win the ONE Championship World Lightweight title local sportswriters asked Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao who Folayang’s next opponent will be.
Sangiao said he’d love for Folayang to meet Ev Ting as the next challenger because Ting has beaten five Filipino fighters in the ONE Championship cage. Ting beat Eric Kelly, Honorio Banario, Edward Kelly, Cary Bullos and Rolando Navarette. Sangiao said Folayang beating Ting to avenge those defeats would be an exciting match.
Personally I think Ting is too small, too slow and would be no match for Folayang. I think Folayang can chew up Ting and spit him out inside of one round. My advice to Ting is to stay as far away from Folayang as he can.
A bout against Ting could still happen though. But who would be a better match for Folayang’s first title defense, most likely at the Mall of Asia Arena in April, 2017?
Luckily, lightweight is a division with some of the most exciting ONE Championship fighters who could give Folayang a run for his championship belt.
Lightweight Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev, 22, is unbeaten in four ONE Championship bouts. Don’t let the thin pro record fool you. Arslanaliev is an experienced fighter who could be an exciting challenge for Folayang.
Arslanaliev battles Rasul Yakhayaev in the undercard of the ONE: Quest for Power in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 14, 2017. Arslanaliev has three KO wins and one submission. A Folayang-Arslanaliev bout would be an exciting match but Arslanaliev will first have to get past Yakhayaev.
Then there’s unbeaten Lowen Tynanes who has strung together nine consecutive victories including a devastating TKO (doctor stoppage) victory over Folayang himself four years ago.
In that bout Tynanes mounted Folayang at the center of the ring. Folayang left his guard open for a split second allowing Tynanes to smash his left elbow on Folayang’s face. Folayang’s right eyebrow split open and blood poured into his eyes and face prompting the referee to stop the bout.
The biggest concern against Tynanes is that he hasn’t fought in ONE Championship since April, 2016 when he beat Koji Ando. Tynanes virtually disappeared from the radar after that bout. But if he can sort out whatever issues he is dealing with, then a title bout against Folayang would be an exciting matchup.
Finally there’s veteran Ariel Sexton who will be coming off a string of three impressive victories in the ONE Championship cage. Sexton is a BJJ black belter who has impressive striking skills as well.
He beat Roger Huerta by TKO last July. He submitted Eddie Ng by Rear-Naked choke in the second round at ONE: Warrior’s Quest. He submitted Anvar Alizhanov by Reverse Triangle Keylock in the first round of their ONE: Dynasty of Champions in December, 2014.
The impressive victory over the highly regarded Huerta more than justifies pitting Sexton against champion Folayang for the ONE Championship lightweight title.
Those are the fighters that I’d like to see Folayang battle in his first title defense. And after he wins that first defense then I’d like to see Folayang in a rematch against MMA legend Aoki in Japan. That’s right, in Japan.
Yoshiaki Ito, President of ONE Championship (Japan), is striving to recapture the glory days of MMA in Japan. What better main event for the first ONE Championship promotion there than a return match between Folayang and Aoki?
But that’s the subject for another story.