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Why Igorot MMA Legend Eduard Folayang Should Retire

Igorot MMA Legend Eduard Folayang just turned 40, here's a comprehensive article on why the Filipino pride should consider hanging up the gloves.

At 40, Igorot MMA legend Eduard Folayang faces a crucial decision: retirement or continued fighting. Explore the strategic factors influencing his choice and its impact on his legacy. Photo: ONE

Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang, the respected Igorot MMA legend, turns 40, marking a crucial point in his career. This milestone prompts a close look at his potential retirement. We'll explore the strategic considerations behind this decision and its impact on Folayang's legacy in the MMA world.

Folayang's MMA journey has been remarkable, filled with triumphs and challenges. Now, at 40, retirement is on the horizon. This exploration aims to uncover the strategic factors influencing this choice, offering insights into the Igorot fighter's thought process and its potential impact.

In the sections ahead, we'll dive into Folayang's legacy, the physical challenges of aging in MMA, the changing landscape of the sport, and the strategic reasons that make retirement a thoughtful option. We'll also look at opportunities beyond the ring, like a potential role as a mentor or coach. Join us in understanding the strategic crossroads Eduard Folayang faces as he considers the future of his MMA career.

Eduard Folayang: A Legacy Beyond the Ring

Eduard Folayang's legacy transcends the boundaries of the MMA arena, showcasing a multifaceted career that cements his place as one of the Greatest Filipino Athletes of All Time. As the first Filipino and a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion, Folayang's achievements in mixed martial arts stand as a testament to his skill, determination, and unwavering spirit.

Wushu Excellence on the International Stage

Before conquering the world of MMA, Folayang left an indelible mark in international wushu competitions. Representing the Philippines, he seized countless gold medals at prestigious events, including the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. His stellar performances at the 2002 Asian Games, 2005 World Wushu Championships, and 2006 Asian Games garnered him accolades and solidified his reputation as a wushu virtuoso.

Recognition Among Filipino Sports Icons

Eduard Folayang's name is enshrined alongside Filipino sports legends like Manny Pacquiao, Efren Bata Reyes, and Paeng Nepomuceno. This recognition as one of the Greatest Filipino Athletes of All Time speaks volumes about his impact on the sporting landscape, transcending the boundaries of MMA and resonating with the broader Filipino community.

Championships and Achievements in MMA

Folayang's journey in mixed martial arts has been adorned with notable championships and accomplishments. In addition to his two-time ONE Lightweight World Championship triumphs, he holds the Martial Combat Superfight Lightweight Championship. His remarkable feat of securing the #1 Pound for Pound MMA fighter status in the Philippines underscores his dominance and influence in the sport.

Diverse Skill Set and Records

Beyond championships, Folayang's achievements include being recognized for having the most fights in ONE Championship (23). His memorable bouts, earning Fight of the Night honors three times, showcase not only his technical prowess but also his ability to captivate audiences.

Eduard Folayang's legacy extends beyond the confines of the ring, encompassing a rich tapestry of accomplishments in wushu, multiple championship titles in MMA, and a revered status among Filipino sporting greats. As he contemplates the future, his legacy remains an enduring chapter in the annals of Philippine sports history.

Factors to Consider: Why Folayang Should Retire

Eduard Folayang, at the crossroads of a distinguished career, faces a pivotal decision-whether to continue his journey in the demanding world of mixed martial arts (MMA) or consider retirement. Several factors come into play, each carrying weight in the strategic contemplation of his future. In this section, we dissect the intricate facets influencing the consideration for retirement, examining the aging fighter's dilemma, the evolving landscape of MMA, and the strategic reasoning behind a potential exit.

The Aging Fighter's Dilemma

In the relentless arena of mixed martial arts (MMA), the physical toll on fighters is undeniable. Aging brings a natural decline in attributes crucial for success-agility, reflexes, and endurance. For Eduard Folayang, a stalwart in the sport, the question arises: can the body keep up with the demands?

The impact of age on an MMA athlete is multifaceted. Movements that once flowed effortlessly become more challenging, and recovery takes longer. The prime peak of MMA fighters is often considered to be in their late 20s to early 30s. Eduard Folayang, now at 40, stands at the edge of this conventional timeline. To underscore the significance of this dilemma, we look at notable examples like Georges St-Pierre, Ronda Rousey, Henry Cejudo, and Khabib Nurmagomedov, all of whom chose to retire earlier in their careers. Their decisions serve as poignant reminders of the complexities aging fighters face in the pursuit of sustaining peak performance.

However, there are exceptions. Fighters like Fabricio Werdum, Anderson Silva, Daniel Cormier, Randy Couture, and recently Glover Teixeira have defied the odds, competing at the highest level well past their perceived prime. Some even captured gold and defended their belts, showcasing that age does not necessarily dictate the end of a successful MMA journey. As we explore Folayang's considerations, these examples highlight the diverse paths aging fighters navigate in their quest for sustained excellence.

Timofey Nastyukhin knocking out Eduard Folayang with a knee followed by barrage of punches and a life-altering kick. Photo: ONE

CTE, Brain Damage, Punch Drunk, Injuries

In the tough world of MMA, fighters like Eduard Folayang face a serious threat-chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), brain damage, and the risk of becoming "punch drunk." The repeated hits to the head can lead to severe long-term consequences, both physically and neurologically.

Folayang, a seasoned warrior in the sport, grapples with the potential aftermath of a career filled with intense physicality. The worry goes beyond visible injuries; it digs into the silent and sneaky realm of brain trauma. As discussions about CTE gain attention in contact sports, the decision to continue in MMA becomes an even more significant consideration for fighters entering or already past their prime.

In this part, we break down the harsh realities of CTE, brain damage, and the broader spectrum of injuries in MMA. The talk makes us think not just about the immediate challenges faced by fighters like Folayang but also about the possible long-term consequences that make the decision to retire more complex. The silent progression of conditions like CTE underscores the seriousness of the choice to step into the ring and the need for fighters to carefully weigh the risks and rewards of their chosen path.

An example hits close to home: There's a boxer from Cordillera who was once hailed as the greatest from the region. Unfortunately, after losing a title fight against one of the biggest boxing legends of that era, he returned home and was never the same. Now, he can be seen just roaming around Baguio City, possibly suffering from being "punch drunk," yet never formally diagnosed. This poignant case illustrates the potential aftermath of a fighter's career and the unseen battles they may face outside the ring.

Eduard Folayang vs. Amir Khan Photo: ONE Championship

Evolution of MMA Landscape

The MMA landscape, once a raw and uncharted territory, has undergone a metamorphosis, shaped by advancements in training methodologies and nutritional sciences. As we delve into the dynamic changes, it becomes evident that the sport Eduard Folayang entered is not the same as the one he now navigates.

Training techniques have evolved into finely tuned systems, incorporating elements from various martial arts disciplines. Fighters today benefit from tailored regimens that enhance their strengths and shore up weaknesses. Nutrition, too, has become a science, with athletes enjoying personalized diets optimized for peak performance. This evolution, while beneficial, poses challenges for fighters like Folayang, who entered the scene in a different era.

The younger generation, fueled by these advancements, not only starts training earlier but also achieves remarkable milestones at very young ages. BJJ prodigies like Mikey "Darth Rigatoni" Musumeci and Kade Ruotolo exemplify the hunger and skill of these young ground specialists. This is an area where, with all due respect, Igorot MMA athletes might find themselves at a disadvantage. As we explore the profound shifts in the MMA landscape, we recognize the emergence of a new breed of fighters-young, hungry, and exceptionally skilled-an additional layer of challenge for seasoned warriors like Eduard Folayang.

Strategic Considerations for Retirement

In the world of MMA, knowing when to step back is crucial. For Eduard Folayang, a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion, this decision isn't just about victories; it's a strategy for preserving his legacy.

Timing matters. A smart exit means recognizing when the body, once a force, starts showing limits. Folayang's legacy is impressive, but the toll of MMA's physical demands raises questions about continuing. Retirement, done strategically, ensures that Folayang's brilliance stays untarnished.

Breaking a tough 5-fight losing streak with a stunning KO against Amir Khan, Folayang stands at a pivotal point. His legacy, secure as a pioneer and champion, inspires countless Filipinos and MMA enthusiasts. The decision to step away isn't about ego; it's about cementing his status as a legend who knew when to leave on his terms.

Notably, ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong has suggested retirement for both Folayang and Amir Khan, noting they appeared "very slow" and are "a shadow of their former selves."

"I believe that both Eduard and Amir should consider retirement. Of course, it is ultimately their choice, but they both looked very slow and are a shadow of their former selves," Chatri Sityodtong said.

Eduard Folayang breaking a tough 5-fight losing streak with a stunning KO against Amir Khan Photo: ONE Championship

Financial Considerations

Eduard Folayang's journey from poverty in Sadanga, Mountain Province, to the pinnacle of the MMA world is a testament to his resilience and determination. Growing up in challenging circumstances where financial constraints led to the tragic loss of siblings due to the inability to afford medical bills, Folayang's rise to success is a remarkable narrative of triumph over adversity.

Now, at the juncture of his career, the question of financial gain takes on a different hue. Folayang's achievements extend beyond monetary wealth; he is already rich in the invaluable currency of accomplishments. From representing the Philippines in international wushu events to becoming a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion, his legacy is etched in the annals of Filipino sports history.

Considering his humble beginnings and the strides he's made, money may no longer be the driving force behind Folayang's decisions. Instead, the focus shifts to preserving his well-being, legacy, and the potential for a fulfilling life beyond the ring. Retirement becomes a choice not dictated by financial necessity but by a desire for a graceful exit and the exploration of new horizons.

Lions Nation MMA

New Horizons: Diversifying Beyond the Octagon

Eduard Folayang's potential decision to step away from MMA transcends mere surrender; it signifies wisdom, self-awareness, and a deep commitment to well-being. It's a graceful exit, a farewell to the sport that etched his name as a legend. This departure, rather than an end, opens doors to new horizons of fulfillment. Dedicating more time to family, exploring uncharted endeavors, embracing mentorship roles, community initiatives, cultural preservation efforts, and even non-MMA-related business ventures become not just options but a natural progression. In this section, we explore the myriad opportunities awaiting the Igorot MMA legend beyond the competitive realm of the octagon.

Possibilities of a Coaching Career

Eduard Folayang's journey in the world of MMA not only marks a legendary career but also lays the foundation for a potential coaching legacy. With the establishment of Lions Nation MMA, a gym he co-founded alongside former Team Lakay teammates-Kevin Belingon, Honorio Banario, Joshua Pacio, Lito Adiwang, Jeremy Pacatiw, and Edward Kelly-the prospect of Folayang transitioning into a coaching or mentorship role becomes a compelling narrative.

In this new chapter, Folayang, along with Lions Nation MMA trainers like Gibran Langbayan (BJJ coach), could use his influence not only to guide the next generation of fighters but also to enhance the team's training methodologies. The collaboration with renowned trainers from other gyms, such as Shinya Aoki for groundgame, and exploring cross-training opportunities with esteemed institutions like Evolve MMA, Tiger Muay Thai, and Team Alpha Male, opens up endless possibilities.

Imagine a scenario where the collective knowledge of these fighters and trainers converges, creating a melting pot of techniques and strategies. This cross-pollination could elevate the training regimen of Lions Nation MMA to new heights, ensuring that the team stays at the forefront of the ever-evolving MMA landscape.

As Folayang contemplates his future, the coaching realm beckons with not only the mentorship of fighters but also the potential to revolutionize training approaches through strategic collaborations. It's an evolution where Folayang's influence continues to shape the narrative of MMA, now not just within the confines of his gym but echoing across the broader spectrum of the sport.

Managerial Pursuits: Aiming for Global Recognition

Considering a dual role as a coach and manager, Eduard Folayang could steer Lions Nation MMA toward new horizons. The prospect of sending Filipino athletes to global platforms like Bellator, UFC, or remaining in ONE Championship adds an exciting dimension to his post-competitive career.

In this scenario, Folayang, donning the hat of a manager, could strategically position his fighters on different international stages. While ONE Championship has successfully attracted former UFC fighters like Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez, the allure of the UFC remains unparalleled. Venturing into the UFC or Bellator could provide a different level of competition, exposing Filipino athletes to diverse fighting styles and unmatched global recognition.

The decision to explore these avenues may not solely revolve around financial gains; it becomes a quest for legacy and recognition on the grandest stage. Becoming one of the best in the world, beyond regional boundaries, could be a powerful testament to the capabilities fostered within Lions Nation MMA. While ONE Championship has its merits, the global reach and historical prominence of the UFC remain undeniable in the world of MMA.

Exploring Political Pathways

As Eduard Folayang contemplates life beyond the octagon, the realm of politics emerges as a potential avenue for him to effect meaningful change and contribute to the well-being of his community and the broader society. Here are considerations for Folayang's potential venture into politics:

1. Local Governance:

  • Community Representation: Consider running for a local government position, such as a councilor or barangay captain, to directly represent and address the needs of the community in Sadanga, Mountain Province.
  • Cultural Advocacy: Use the political platform to advocate for the preservation of indigenous cultures, heritage, and the well-being of the Igorot people.

2. Regional Representation:

  • Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR): Explore opportunities for political representation at the regional level, contributing to the development and progress of the entire Cordillera region.
  • Policy Advocacy: Engage in policy-making that addresses regional challenges, promotes sustainable development, and safeguards the interests of the Igorot community.

3. National Impact:

  • Congressional Role: Contemplate a run for a seat in the House of Representatives, providing a platform to influence national legislation and policies.
  • Sports and Culture Advocacy: Leverage the position to advocate for the promotion of sports, cultural heritage, and the unique identity of indigenous communities on a national scale.

4. Public Service Initiatives:

  • Health and Education: Prioritize public service initiatives that focus on healthcare accessibility, education, and infrastructure development, particularly in underserved areas.
  • Youth Empowerment: Develop programs that empower the youth through education, sports, and skill-building initiatives.

5. Advocacy for Athletes:

  • Sports Legislation: Champion legislation that supports the welfare of athletes, addresses issues such as fair treatment, healthcare, and career transitions.
  • Athlete Representation: Act as a voice for athletes, ensuring that their concerns and needs are recognized and addressed within the political landscape.

6. Collaboration with Indigenous Communities:

  • Tribal Representation: Advocate for the representation of indigenous voices in political decision-making processes, fostering inclusivity and diversity.
  • Land and Resource Protection: Work towards policies that protect ancestral lands, natural resources, and the rights of indigenous peoples.

7. Global Indigenous Advocacy:

  • International Platforms: Use political influence to engage in global conversations on indigenous rights, environmental sustainability, and cultural diversity.
  • Diplomatic Engagements: Explore diplomatic opportunities to represent the Philippines on international stages, emphasizing the importance of indigenous perspectives.

Entering the political arena provides Eduard Folayang with a unique platform to translate his passion for community well-being, cultural preservation, and athlete advocacy into tangible actions. Through politics, he can contribute to shaping policies, influencing societal change, and leaving a lasting impact on the region and the country as a whole.

Diversifying Beyond MMA

Eduard Folayang's journey doesn't conclude with his remarkable MMA career; it extends into diverse realms where he can leverage his skills, influence, and experiences. Here are avenues through which Folayang can make a lasting impact beyond the octagon:

1. Community Initiatives:

  • Cultural Preservation: Actively engage in initiatives that promote and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Igorot people. This can involve supporting cultural events, festivals, or even spearheading projects to document and share traditional practices.
  • Youth Empowerment: Use his influence to inspire and empower the youth, particularly in the Cordillera region. Establishing programs that focus on education, leadership, and skill development can contribute significantly to community growth.

2. Business Ventures:

  • Entrepreneurship: Explore business opportunities, possibly in the hospitality or tourism sector. Given his popularity, ventures like a cultural-themed restaurant, a training facility, or an adventure tourism business could thrive.
  • Merchandising: Leverage his personal brand to create and sell merchandise. This could include apparel, memorabilia, or even products that showcase Igorot craftsmanship, contributing to cultural awareness.

3. Media and Communication:

  • Blogging and Vlogging: Expand his blogging endeavors to include a broader range of topics, including travel, culture, and personal development. Venturing into vlogging could also provide a more immersive way to share his experiences and insights.
  • Public Speaking: Utilize his story and experiences as a platform for motivational speaking engagements. This not only brings his narrative to a wider audience but also serves as a source of inspiration.

4. Education and Training:

  • Martial Arts Academies: Extend his influence in martial arts by establishing training academies that focus on various disciplines. This can include not only MMA but also traditional martial arts and self-defense programs.
  • Seminar and Workshops: Conduct seminars and workshops on martial arts philosophy, discipline, and the mental aspects of combat sports.

5. Global Engagement:

  • International Cultural Ambassador: Serve as a cultural ambassador, representing not just the Igorot people but the Philippines on the global stage. Participate in international events, forums, or collaborations that promote cultural exchange and understanding.

6. Philanthropy:

  • Charitable Foundations: Establish a foundation dedicated to supporting causes close to his heart, such as healthcare initiatives, education scholarships, or community development projects.
  • Disaster Relief: Mobilize resources to aid in disaster-stricken areas, showcasing the spirit of bayanihan and solidarity.

7. Media Production:

  • Documentaries: Produce documentaries or films that highlight the unique stories of the Cordillera region, shedding light on its history, traditions, and contemporary challenges.

Eduard Folayang's potential extends far beyond the confines of the MMA world, offering a multitude of avenues to make a lasting impact in various fields and contribute to the betterment of society. Through these endeavors, he can continue to inspire and uplift not only the Igorot people but individuals globally, showcasing the diverse talents and richness of Filipino culture.


In thinking about Eduard Folayang's possible retirement, we're looking at the end of a remarkable career that goes beyond the MMA ring. His legacy, packed with wushu success, many championships, and recognition among Filipino sports icons, proves his significant contributions to Philippine sports.

The decision to retire involves considering challenges like aging, the changing MMA scene, and health risks. Folayang's choice to face these challenges with wisdom signals not just an exit from the sport but a smooth transition to new opportunities.

Financial aspects, rooted in his humble beginnings and a desire for a fulfilling life beyond money, highlight that Eduard Folayang's wealth comes from his achievements. Exploring options beyond MMA reveals various paths-coaching, managerial roles, political engagement, community work, business ventures, and global representation-each offering a canvas for Folayang to shape his next impactful chapter.

Chatri Sityodtong's viewpoint adds an external perspective, deepening the discussion. Breaking down political pathways, from local to global impact, shows Folayang's unique platform for meaningful change and contributing to his community and beyond.

As we explore different realms beyond MMA, like community initiatives, business ventures, media, education, and philanthropy, we see Folayang's potential to keep inspiring not only the Igorot people but individuals globally, sharing the richness of Filipino culture.

In saying farewell to the competitive world of MMA, Eduard Folayang's departure signifies a new beginning. We eagerly anticipate the unfolding of the next phase in the journey of the Igorot MMA legend, confident that whatever path he chooses will carry the same spirit that made him a champion in the hearts of many.

Ultimately, the decision to retire or continue in the world of MMA rests solely with Eduard Folayang. As fans, our role is to cheer for him, acknowledging the immense legacy he's built and supporting whatever choice he makes. Whether he decides to step out of the ring now or pursue new horizons, we stand by, grateful for the inspiration and excitement he brought to the world of sports. The Igorot MMA legend's journey continues, and we eagerly await the next chapter, recognizing that the decision, like his career, is uniquely his own.

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