WITH NO definite opponents yet, One Championship lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang is set to defend his title in April this year.
ONE founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong in a television interview confirmed the Igorot world champion will headline the event which tentatively includes welterweight king Ben Askren in the blockbuster fight card.
Folayang scored an upset against the legendary Shinya Aoki for the crown to complete his own grand slam in 2016 by beating Tetsuya Yamada in January 29 and then Adrian Pang in August 13.
He came to the Aoki fight as the underdog and was behind in points in the first round when the Japanese legend took down the three time South East Asian Games gold medalist several times before his striking came to fore and made one of the best mixed martial arts wins for the year.
The winner in the Ev Ting - Kamal Shalorous bout is expected to challenge Folayang in his first defense as both fighters top bills the upcoming ONE event on February 10 slated at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Currently riding a three-fight win streak Ting believes defeating the former number one contender in convincing fashion will be enough to secure the title opportunity he desires.
“Obviously, I want to leave a strong statement and have a really good performance. But I have to go in there, be careful, be cautious, and take it as it comes,” the 27-year-old says. “It is no secret I am coming in with my best sprawl-and-brawl game, and it is a matter of hitting him without getting hit or taken down.”
Doing that in-front of his fellow countrymen would make the occasion extra special.
Born in Malaysia, Ting spent the first seven years of his life in the Southeast Asian country before his parents uprooted the entire family to Auckland, New Zealand, for more opportunities. His father worked in the timber industry and his mother worked as a secretary, and they were able to provide their five children with a strong education and a healthy environment.
But Shalorus wants another shot at glory.
Two years removed from unsuccessfully challenging Aoki, Shalorus will renew his quest for the gold in the main event of Throne of Tigers.
“Ev is a good fighter, but he never fought a tough guy like me. He has never faced a fighter like me. I am going to put him in the cold water, and he has never experienced a fight in cold water,” the 39-year-old says.
“I am going to win, I am going to knock him down, I am going to choke him and, after that, I am going to go after Eduard Folayang,” added Shalorus.
Shalorus debut in ONE in 2013 and handed Folayang his fourth loss via unanimous decision. (Roderick Osis)