The clash of legends between Filipino great Eduard Folayang and Australian icon John Wayne Parr did not disappoint at ONE X last Saturday.
The two martial arts heroes battled for three entertaining rounds of muay Thai at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, but it was the former ONE lightweight world champion who took home the win in Parr's retirement fight.
'The Gunslinger' has had a long and illustrious career, earning legions of fans along the way, and his last dance really captured the interest of the global fan base.
This was not lost on Folayang, who admits he was thrilled to be a part of such a massive occasion – and even happier to get a much-needed win in his first switch from MMA to muay Thai.
"I was so happy for the opportunity," said the 38-year-old. "I would like to thank Chatri (Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO) and ONE Championship for giving me an all-striking match against a legend like JWP. I would also like to thank JWP for giving me the opportunity to fight him in his retirement fight. It’s humbling to get the experience of facing one of the most well-known strikers in his era.
"I was in disbelief (when I got the win). I thought to myself, 'Finally I was able to break my skid, and I was able to give a good fight.' Especially since the people in attendance were all standing up, they were cheering, and it was definitely noisy inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium. At the back of my head, I knew that I made it. And this is great for me, momentum-wise."
While the Australian didn’t take home the victory, he did take a new friendship – and a $50,000 performance bonus – with him back to the Gold Coast.
It's clear that Folayang and Parr are cut from a similar cloth. They are both respectful, dignified martial artists who have given their all to combat sports over the years.
So, while 'The Gunslinger' might be hanging up his gloves, the Filipino plans to bring lessons from the famed striker into his future contests – and he won't write off a joint training session if the chance arises.
"I truly appreciate John Wayne Parr because he’s a true martial artist," said Folayang. "I see my teammates in him, I see myself in him. The nice thing about this is we really showed how genuine we are with each other. He’s an awesome martial artist, he's very humble and approachable, and I thank him for giving me a kangaroo stuffed toy. My kids love it.
"One thing that I learned from JWP is his finishing instinct. For as long as you have time, you try to finish your opponent and go all-out. It's something that I can take from him moving forward.
"Maybe someday (I could go train with him). Of course we don’t know if that opportunity will come, but you know me, I'm very open to everything. If I can learn things, especially from a legend like John Wayne Parr, then that would be great."
Eduard Folayang Targets Sage Northcutt And Sexyama Next
Last weekend’s win over Parr was massive for Folayang, and it's helped breathe fresh life into his career after a tough run of results.
Speaking after his first-ever muay Thai bout, “Landslide” noted that he was interested in trying out more battles in the all-striking ONE Super Series – offering up American star Sage Northcutt as a potential opponent.
"I think it will be a good fight," said Folayang. "It's a win-win situation for us. He’s a striker, a karate champion. On the other hand, I'm from wushu, and we’ll be fighting in a different world with muay Thai rules. I think that is a good match for us. It will truly test our skills. I’m sure he loves a challenge, and I see this one as entertaining."
However, the former wushu star is not done in MMA.
Folayang is still eager to prove that he can achieve great success in the sport and entertain fans with his exciting style.
"Maybe we can bring in Akiyama," said Folayang. "He really performed well against Shinya. It's (almost) identical to the way I beat Shinya. I think this is a good match to make. We were supposed to face each other before but it got canceled. If it happens, it will definitely be explosive. The crowd will definitely be on their feet.
"Akiyama is someone I really look up to considering his longevity. He’s been here a long time. Maybe we can put on a legend-versus-legend two. We’re done with legend-versus-legend one, so let’s do this."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.