Eduard Folayang and Martin Nguyen
The MMA careers of Eduard Folayang and Martin Nguyen once crossed paths in November 2017. ONE Championship


  • Eduard Folayang will be rooting for Martin Nguyen in his comeback bid
  • Nguyen is set to compete at ONE Fight Night 7 in Bangkok, Thailand
  • Folayang fought Nguyen under the ONE Championship banner in 2017

To say that the past three years have been a turbulent ride for former two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen is a massive understatement.

It all began in October 2020 when he relinquished his possession of the ONE Featherweight World Championship to Thanh Le, succumbing to a shocking third-round knockout at the hands of the Vietnamese-American spitfire.

With redemption on his mind, Nguyen returned to action 11 months later. Unfortunately for him, the result was the same as he suffered an upset loss to "The Fighting God" Kim Jae Woong by way of first-round knockout.

Although he managed to catch a break with a rousing performance against Kirill Gorobets in March 2022, Nguyen was sent back crashing to the losing territory by promotional debutant Ilya Freymanov six months later.

The current state of his professional career is far from the peak of his glory days, where he bolstered his legacy by becoming a kingpin in two weight classes, vying for gold at bantamweight twice, and recording three successful ONE World Title defenses at featherweight.

As he takes on a new assignment on Saturday, February 25 (Friday, February 24 in the United States), a familiar name on Nguyen's long list of foes hopes to see the same old "Situ-Asian" who earned a dreaded reputation for defying the odds.

Eduard Folayang will be tuning in as a fan when Nguyen takes on late-notice opponent Leonardo Casotti in a three-round featherweight joust at ONE Fight Night 7, which takes place at the legendary Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

"It's one of the most anticipated matches on the card in Bangkok because it's a showdown between two very exciting fighters with the ability to finish the fight in an instant. A win here for Martin will definitely be a big statement," he said.

Nguyen is no stranger to Folayang as both men faced each other in November 2017, with the former pulling off a stunning one-punch knockout victory to capture the latter's ONE Lightweight World Championship.

Much has changed for the two since that encounter, especially for Nguyen who plans to kickstart his road to redemption opposite an outstanding foe like Casotti.

Casotti is 9-2 as a mixed martial artist with a 77-percent finishing rate—four wins by submission and three via knockout.

Moreover, the 30-year-old from Brazil is enjoying an impressive nine-fight winning streak that all started in 2015.

Casotti earned the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in front of a global audience when he took the offer to step in for Razhab Shaydullaev and square off with Nguyen on a few days' notice.

While Casotti poses to be a handful for Nguyen, Folayang is giving his Vietnamese-Australian rival a puncher's chance.

"You can never underestimate Martin Nguyen's caliber as a competitor. He is the type of fighter who always rises to the occasion. He can change the tide of a match with a single punch. To write him off in a fight is a mistake," the Filipino MMA superstar explained.

"I know he is facing an outstanding opponent. But let me remind everyone that this is mixed martial arts. Anything can happen in this sport."

Even though Folayang will be rooting for Nguyen this weekend, the beloved Filipino issued a stern reminder that their rivalry is far from over.

"I am open to facing him again in the Circle. If he plans to fight again at lightweight, he knows who to call. I'm just here," Folayang expressed.

Martin Nguyen
Martin Nguyen became the first two-division world champion in ONE Championship after beating Eduard Folayang in November 2017. ONE Championship