MANILA, Philippines – Before Eduard Folayang was crowned champion, he was always the soft-spoken, humble type.
He never bragged about being Philippine mixed martial arts’ longtime face. Neither did he rush for a crack at the world title.
Folayang--now even with a gold strap in stewardship--remains the same.
With his first title defense looming just around the corner, Philstar.com caught up with the teacher-turned-fighter and asked about his thoughts on his upcoming foe.
"Ako naman, fighter ako," the Baguio City native said. "Kahit sino namang makakalaban, we prepare thoroughly for him."
The 32-year-old wushu practitioner will face Ev Ting, who recently called him out after beating Folayang's old tormentor Kamal Shalorus in a recent ONE Championship match
"Tinalo niya 'yung tumalo sa akin via split decision," Folayang noted. "But I will look to keep the belt here, where it belongs."
Ting is currently 7-1 in eight ONE outings, while Folayang is 7-3, although the latter has been through 10 fights under the same promotion.
The telling detail, though, is that Ting has fallen to a championship-caliber fighter in Marat Gafurov two years ago, while Folayang has not just defeated a champion but beat a Japanese MMA legend convincingly.
"Continuing to be the champion is a very tough task, but I accept the challenge," Folayang said in a separate statement.
"The champions that came before me--recognized as greats and legends of the sport--every single one of them faced contenders that challenged their prowess as champions. In April, I will have the opportunity to show the world why I hold my coveted title," the 2016 ONE Fighter of the Year said.
Folayang and Ting lock horns on April 21 at the Mall of Asia Arena.