Part I of MMA Philippines’ Exclusive Interview with 6th Dan Judoka and BJJ Black Belt John Baylon
Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang shocked the world when he defeated long-time ONE lightweight champion Shinya Aoki in a dazzling display of aggressive striking and submission defense. Everyone knew Folayang could strike; what surprised most of us was how well he defended against Aoki – the most feared grappling specialist this side of the planet – even though Shinya was in back control for most of the first round.
To explain our collective cognitive dissonance, some may have speculated that Aoki’s abilities are waning, or more grievously pass it off as sheer luck on Folayang’s part. But Clube De Jiu Jitsu Filipinas head coach John Baylon clarifies that it is neither: Eduard Folayang trained his ass off to defeat Shinya Aoki.
“I’ve known Eduard and Mark Eddiva since our days in the national team. Ever since, they wanted to train with us despite their busy schedule up in Baguio. Eventually, we were able to create a timetable that was suitable,” shared Coach John of how two of Team Lakay’s top fighters came to work with Academia John Baylon. “Initially, Eduard trained with the normal class, but when the fight with Aoki was finalized, he trained with us twice a day for two weeks straight, where Eduard would be the practice opponent and all he did was defend submission attempts in all positions.”
Those two weeks paid off, as the outcome was clear as day. “He was able to use [his submission defense] against Aoki, especially in defending his back, which we drilled over and over. It felt like second nature to him.” Coach John believes that the reason the two-week grappling camp worked for Folayang is his predisposition towards learning. “Eduard is very good with picking up techniques and adding them to his existing skill set as a high-level athlete. Moreover, he was very interested and had a great attitude to learn, and it showed in his fight with Aoki who was clearly surprised at Eduard’s skill level in defending his submission attempts.”
Curiously, Coach John is like Shinya Aoki a highly ranked practitioner of both BJJ and judo. Herein, Coach John shared something very particular about Aoki’s performance that evening. “Aoki’s reputation as a high-level grappler has always been evidenced by the nature of his wins. The number of opponents who have been able to escape his back take transition are very few. For Eduard to defend and escape his position really surprised him. I rolled with him before as his teacher Onozawa Sensei was also my teacher, and I would always train with them to prepare for the SEA Games and other competitions. I also trained in Takushoku University, and sometimes I would spar with Aoki. That’s one of his tendencies – to keep repeating the same technique even if his opponent has already defended it. Call it pride or whatever, but that is something particular about him. That’s why when Eduard defended his back well, Aoki made mistake after mistake of repeating the same choke even though he had other options, which allowed Eduard to escape and reset into stand up.”
From that point onwards, Coach John believes it was all academic. “That’s where Aoki had no chance because, let’s face it, Eduard could knock out Aoki even with one eye closed, whereas Aoki uses strikes to chain into his grappling, not really to KO his opponent. That’s what he did with Kamal Shalorus, who didn’t even try to defend the submission.”
To become the lightweight champion of the world by taking out arguably the most revered champion in the roster is no small feat, but both Coach John and Folayang are not letting their guard down against the scrappy Ev Ting. “The Landslide” was back in Clube De Jiu Jitsu Filipinas first week of April to work on his grappling. “I really wanted Eduard to polish his submission defense. Ev Ting might not be as skilled [in grappling] as Aoki, but he can catch you when you least expect it.”
Truly, “E.T” is a more complete fighter who has the power to knock people out (head kick KO against Edward Kelly) and the technique to get the tap (guillotine choke submissions against Eric Kelly, Honorio Banario, and Cary Bullos). Even in his losing effort against Mark Striegl, Ting impressed with a ground reversal and a close arm bar attempt in their Legend FC fight, and we all know how strong Striegl is on the ground, in the very first round.
MMA Philippines would like to wish Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang the best as he faces Ev Ting this Friday, April 21, at ONE: Kings of Destiny. Show your support by watching our Filipino warriors LIVE at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
John Hudson Go is the Editor-in-Chief of MMA Philippines.
Gary Navida fell in love with the sport since the first UFC in 1993 and has never stopped supporting MMA since. He’ll tell you he’s a nice guy…but you already know that.
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