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LOOK: Japanese legend Shinya Aoki visits longtime rival Eduard Folayang in Baguio City

Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki | Image courtesy of ONE
Eduard Folayang and Shinya Aoki | Image courtesy of ONE

Former ONE lightweight world champion and Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki recently visited Baguio City, Philippines to spend some time with his former rival Eduard Folayang and his team, Team Lakay Wushu.

'Tobikan Judan' was seen traveling around the mountainous city, exploring its beautiful sights and experiencing the culture of Filipinos. Of course, his trip wouldn't be complete if he didn't spend time in the gym with Folayang's teammates. Shinya Aoki conducted an extensive seminar to select a few athletes from Team Lakay to teach them a thing or two about his famous grappling wizardry.

It's quite beautiful to see Aoki making the effort to visit his former foe and get to know him and his culture on a deeper level. This proves how martial arts and the art of combat can truly bring out the best in every individual. No other bond can truly rival the bond between two warriors who went to war against each other and ended the conflict in honor and respect.

ONE Championship compiled some photos of the two MMA legends enjoying the sights in Baguio City:

"Shinya Aoki πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅ pays homage to longtime rival Eduard Folayang in his native Philippines πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­ @shinya050983 @the.landslide @litoadiwang"

A look back at the epic rivalry between Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang

The intense rivalry between former ONE lightweight world champions Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang was one of the organization's most memorable. Aoki and Folayang are the flag-bearers of the Asian martial arts organization, especially in its early days.

Folayang is arguably the first Filipino MMA fighter to put his country on the map. 'The Landslide' competed in the main event of the very first ONE Championship card in 2011. As for Aoki, 'Tobikan Judan' was already an 8-year MMA veteran by the time he set foot on ONE.

Having competed and won world titles in various organizations like PRIDE, Strikeforce, DREAM, Shooto and Bellator, Aoki was one of the highest-profile athletes signed by ONE back in 2012. He quickly delivered on the hype behind him by winning the ONE lightweight world title in less than a year.

The pair first met in November 2016 when Folayang challenged Aoki for the belt at ONE: Defending Honor. The Filipino striker surprised everyone by showcasing his grappling defense against one of the greatest jiujitsu fighters in MMA. The upset came in the third round when 'The Landslide' stuffed a takedown and then landed a hard knee to Aoki's face. He then knocked the Japanese legend out with ground-and-pound to win the world title.

Their second meeting took place in March 2019 at ONE: A New Era. In front of his home crowd in Tokyo, Japan, Shinya Aoki put Folayang to sleep with a vicious arm triangle choke in the first round, recapturing the belt almost three years after losing it.

Their third and final meeting came at ONE on TNT IV, where the stakes were not as high, as no world title was on the line this time around. Aoki put their rivalry to sleep by forcing Folayang to tap to an armbar in the first round of their trilogy bout.

Considering both fighters’ history with the promotion and being in the latter stages of their careers, seeing them in action against each other once again for the final match of their combat sports careers could certainly be an option they could explore.

Watch the recap of Eduard Flayang and Shinya Aokii's rivalry here:

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Edited by C. Naik
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