Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Timofey Nastyukhin stood opposite each other inside the ONE Championship cage nearly three years ago when the Russian combatant faced the Filipino mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar in his promotional debut.
Both men squared off aat the jam-packed Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, serving as one of the featured attractions of ONE: WARRIOR’S WAY in December 2014.
Nastyukhin made himself known in front of a worldwide audience by knocking out Folayang in the first round with a thunderous flying knee.
Since their exciting meeting inside the ONE Championship cage, Folayang and Nastyukhin have never seen eye-to-eye. Moreover, a lot of things have changed in their respective professional MMA careers.
Nastyukhin has had mixed outcomes in his last four outings since notching a shocking upset victory over Folayang.
Meanwhile, Folayang has gone undefeated since his loss to Nastyukhin, riding high on an impressive four-fight winning streak and capturing the coveted ONE Lightweight World Championship title from Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in November 2016.
With Folayang having ONE Championship’s top prize at lightweight, Nastyukhin seeks to cross paths with the celebrated Filipino fighter once again.
“A lot of things have changed. The division had a major facelift, and it is still growing with new names joining the ranks. Aside from all of that, lightweight has a new champion in Eduard Folayang,” he stated.
“Eduard and I had a history. We fought before in ONE Championship. I hope we can meet again, but this time it’s for the title. My goal is to become a champion. Eduard has what I want. And I am coming for it,” Nastyukhin added.
Nastyukhin admitted that he is fully aware of Folayang’s recent career resurgence as the 33-year-old Baguio City native managed to reinvent himself by transitioning from a pure striker to an all-around MMA fighter.
“Eduard has improved greatly. Before, he is only a striker with heavy hands and kicks. Right now, he has a good takedown defense and has exhibited good control on the mat. He is more of a complete fighter. He is a dangerous fighter,” he said of Folayang.
The 27-year-old Russian knockout artist believes that a win in his upcoming bout will be the first step in securing a rematch with Folayang.
After spending the past nine months rehabilitating from a broken shin, Nastyukhin is finally healed and is now ready to leave that painful part of his life behind him.
Nastyukhin moves on with his prospective MMA career as he squares off with former title contender Koji Ando on the undercard of ONE: KINGS AND CONQUERORS in Macao, China on Saturday, 5 August.
“I believe this fight against Koji Ando will help me earn a rematch with him. I still dream of becoming a world champion in MMA. Eduard is the one holding the title. It’s a must-win for me if I want to vie for the world championship in this great organization,” he stressed.