Folayang tries to regain crown vs tough Russian

MANILA, Philippines — Eduard Folayang clashes with Kharun Atlangeriev of Russia in the undercard of the ONE: Unstoppable Dreams at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, hoping to get past his unbeaten rival and start his climb back to the top of the lightweight ladder.

The 33-year-old Folayang snatched the lightweight crown from Japanese legend Shinya Aoki also in ONE 49: Defending Honor in Singapore two years ago but lost it a year later on a second-round knockout defeat (punch) to Martin Nguyen of Australia ONE 65: Legends of the World in Manila.

Folayang, who fell to an 18-6 (win-loss) record, vowed to do his best and get back on track.

“I hope to win this fight and help me get back on track,” said Folayang.

But the 25-year-old Atlangeriev expressed confidence of extending his unbeaten run to 12 in his ONE debut to earn a title crack in the 77.1-kilogram weight class against Nguyen.

“I’m super excited to visit Singapore and put on a show,” said Atlangeriev. “I know that he is a former champion and an experienced competitor, but I have no pressure on me. The pressure is on him. It is going to be a wild night.”

Though he’s going up against a former champ, Atlangeriev believes he has the tools to beat Folayang.

“To the common eye, it may be a mismatch on paper due to records and experience, but I am confident in my skills. I feel like this is my time to make myself known around the globe. Anything can happen, and I have the skills to finish him,” he stated.

“I have fought some crazy people in my career. I know what Eduard Folayang offers, and I know how he fights, and to be honest, I am not really afraid of anything. The only thing I am afraid of is me not giving my 100 percent, and that is pretty much it,” said Altangeriev, who fought in 11 MMA fights, 10 of which went the distance.