Eduard Folayang is a hero on the Philippines and was widely expected to defend his lightweight title for the second time when he fought Martin Nguyen at ONE: Legnds of the World on Friday (local time). But if there was a script the Australian hadn’t read it. He silenced the MOA Arena in Manila with a second-round knockout of the champion.
Nguyen was already the ONE Championship featherweight titleholder. His reward for stopping the previously undefeated champion Marat Gafurov earlier this year was a shot at another belt, this time in a higher division.
The odds seemed stacked against the 28-year-old. Folayang was fighting on home territory, in front of a sold-out audience at the MOA Arena, but Nguyen finished the bout in such devastating fashion that there was no room for controversy or doubt.
The Filipino controlled the opening round, landing kicks to the body and legs of an opponent who seemed at a disadvantage in terms of both size and strength. The second stanza started with a similar pattern as Folayang continually attacked with kicks from range.
Nguyen seemed to be fading from the fight when the Filipino attempted a spinning back kick midway through the second round. But it proved to be a turning point that would completely shake up the lightweight and featherweight divisions.
As Folayang looked to spin round and embed his heel in Nguyen’s mid section, the Australian countered with a right hand. It was a simple yet effective maneuver that crumpled the lightweight champion and instantly ended the fight.
You could hear a pin drop in the MOA Arena, but Nguyen wasn’t out to win a popularity contest. The finish came at 2:20 of round 1.
“Coming into the fight, I didn’t really want to throw that right hand. The main objective was a TKO or a sub, but hats off to Eduard,” Nguyen said after the fight. “I hope you’re alright. I hope you come back from this strong.”
The win takes the Australian, who is of Vietnamese descent, to 10-1, while Folayang drops to 18-6. Nguyen also becomes ONE Championship’s first ever two division titleholder and will have to decide which belt he wants to defend next.
Earlier in the evening, Folayang’s Team Lakay teammate Danny Kingad (7-1) suffered his first career defeat at the hands of Adriano Moraes (17-2). A first-round takedown was all it took for the defending flyweight champion to take the Filipino’s back and sink in a rear naked choke.
ONE: Legends of the World Results
- Martin Nguyen def. Eduard Folayang via knockout (punch) at 2:20, R2
- Adriano Moraes def. Danny Kingad via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:45, R1
- Kevin Belingon def. Kevin Chung via unanimous decision
- Alex Silva def. Hayato Suzuki via submission (armbar) at 1:22, R1
- Reece McLaren def. Anatpong Bunrad via submission (D’Arce choke) at 4:52, R1
- Zhao Zhi Kang def. Thai Rithy via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:31, R1
- Gina Iniong def. Priscilla Lumban Gaol via TKO (strikes) at 2:12, R2
- Joshua Pacio def. Roy Doliguez via knockout (spinning backfist) at 0:38, R2
- Xie Chao def. Kelvin Ong via TKO (strikes) at 1:48, R1
- Peng Xue Wen def. Phat Soda via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:15, R1
(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter)