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Despite pre-fight health bugs, Eduard Folayang gets 'divine appointment' at ONE on TNT 4

Eduard Folayang got a "divine appointment" to have a fight at ONE on TNT 4. Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Consider this a roller coaster April to the camps of both Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang.

Both Asian mixed martial arts legends were already gearing up for their initially scheduled bouts at ONE on TNT 4 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

But, as fate would have it, health issues suddenly became a factor.

Aoki's supposed foe, Sage Northcutt, begged off due to lingering COVID-19 symptoms.

On the other hand, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Folayang's schedule opponent, announced that he got injured during training camp and had to pull himself out of the competition as well.

Worse, even Folayang himself was in a tough situation too as two of his Team Lakay allies, Lito Adiwang and Stephen Loman, were both tested positive for COVID-19, prompting them to be taken off ONE on TNT 2 and ONE on TNT 3, respectively, three weeks ago.

Despite all the speed bumps, both Folayang and Aoki would still see action at ONE on TNT 4 as they are now scheduled to face off for the third and possibly the last time on Thursday.

And for Folayang, it is destiny.

"I think this fight was really meant [to happen]," he said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

Folayang was eventually cleared to fight after he was tested negative for COVID-19 despite reportedly being Loman's close contact during training camp in Baguio.

"It's really probably a divine appointment for us to meet in a trilogy," Folayang further said.

Unlike their first two meetings where the ONE Championship gold were on the line, Folayang and Aoki, both former ONE lightweight champions in their own rights, will engage in some sort of a "legacy fight", although world title implications are still at stake in their showdown.

"We are here to prove something," the 36-year-old Folayang said ahead of his rematch with Aoki, who will turn 38 this May 9.

Folayang, on the other hand, kept mum on how the trilogy fight will end up considering that the first two matches did not went the full length.

But he knows that he and Aoki have one common goal: "The hands of us being raised."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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