MANILA, Philippines — Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki's third, and possibly final, bout in ONE on TNT IV came as a coincidence with the fight only happening due to safety protocols amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
But for Folayang, it seems like its destiny for them to meet again this time, with almost a good two years since their last meeting in the Circle.
Both former ONE lightweight titlists, Folayang and Aoki have had a storied rivalry with both fighters taking a win each, which resulted in the belt changing hands.
That is why the fighter out of Team Lakay jumped at the opportunity to fight Aoki, despite the short notice and big adjustments on his part in the opponent change.
"It affected my preparations because I'm preparing for a different style of fighter… I needed to really change the strategy," said Folayang.
"It's a lot of adjustment but the good thing there is I want to do something good despite the changes, I want to give the best performance that I can that's why when they asked me to go and fight against Shinya, I said I want that fight… It's a good day for us to meet again," he added.
Folayang was supposed to face off against Aoki's compatriot and fellow veteran Yoshihiro Akiyama, but it was called off due to an injury to the 45-year-old Akiyama.
Meanwhile, Aoki's initial opponent was Sage Northcutt who had to pull out of the card due to lingering symptoms of COVID-19.
Now as their tiebreaker bout looms, Folayang is coming in with a clear game plan as he hopes to arrest a two fight losing streak and potentially put his name back into the lightweight rankings at the tailend of his career.
"The plan there is just to make the fight on the feet and to execute my game plan well," said Folayang.
"That's the way how I see it," he concluded.
Folayang and Aoki will lock horns on Thursday, Asia time with the event aired live on the US Wednesday evening.
ONE on TNT IV, the last installment of the ONE on TNT series, will feature Aung La N Sang stake his ONE Light Heavyweight title against Vitaly Bigdash in the main event.
Also in the card is Aoki and Folayang's fellow lightweight Eddie Alvarez, who will face a quick turnaround after a no contest over Iuri Lapicus earlier this month.
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