[EXCLUSIVE] Amir Khan to Eduard Folayang: I respect you

Eduard Folayang, Amir Khan (© Alvin Berto)

Eduard Folayang, Amir Khan (© Alvin Berto)

After 13 bouts in ONE Championship, Singaporean mixed martial artist Amir Khan, 24, is finally competing for a world title. To win the belt, the fighter representing Evolve MMA has to conquer former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, 34, of the Philippines.

Khan and Folayang will compete for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Championship in the co-main event of “ONE: Conquest of Champions.” Recently, I asked the Singaporean contender to give a message to the Filipino fans and to Folayang.

“To all the Filipino fans, watch me next Friday and I promise an exciting show and I hope by the end of the night, even though I ruin your night by beating your hometown hero, I wish you become fans at the end of the night,” Khan stated. “And to Eduard Folayang, I respect you and let’s put up a good show.”

On November 16, 2018, Khan and Folayang had their face-off during the open workout at the Victory Sports Tower in Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Right after the workout, I asked the Evolve MMA fighter about his thoughts on facing a hometown hero in the Philippines, which is one of the countries with the most avid MMA fans in the world.

First, Khan noted that Filipino martial artists receive much respect from their countrymen. About competing in his opponent’s hometown, he said, “I’m not really concerned about fighting (against a hometown hero) or having the home crowd advantage or anything.”

“I’m just focused on what is happening in the cage,” Khan told me. “So when I go to the cage, I just wanna give everything. So it doesn’t really bother me.”

The last time Khan fought in his hometown was on May 18, 2018. He knocked out Sung Jong Lee, 32, of Cheonan, South Korea at “ONE: Unstoppable Dreams” at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.

“I feel maybe it’s more pressure on him because his family and friends will be there,” Khan said of Folayang. “He has to put up a good show and I just go in there and do my job. I don’t have to worry about any other factors.”

“Are you saying that being the underdog in this fight is an advantage?” I asked Khan. He responded, “I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage. It just depends on how you take it.”

Folayang reigned as the ONE Lightweight World Champion from November 11, 2016 to November 10, 2017. It was at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines where he was dethroned by Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, 29, of Australia and Vietnam.

On September 28, 2018, Nguyen vacated the ONE Lightweight World Championship because he is unable to defend it due to an injury. He is still the reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion.

“He has to really prove himself again and I feel there’s a lot of pressure on him,” Khan said of Folayang. “So I feel it’s less pressure on me to be honest.”

“ONE: Conquest of Champions” will take place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on November 23, 2018. Meanwhile, watch my full interview with Khan here:

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