• ONE on TNT IV will be shown on April 28 in the United States
  • In the event's lead card, one of the best Asian MMA trilogies will be put to a close
  • Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang will settle their rivalry for the final time

One of the best Asian mixed martial arts rivalries of the modern era will finally be put to a close at "ONE on TNT IV" on April 28.

Circumstances have led to Japanese grappler Shinya Aoki and Filipino hero Eduard Folayang crossing paths for the third and possibly the final time.

Aoki was originally scheduled to face American Sage Northcutt, but the latter pulled out due to lingering effects of COVID-19.

Folayang, on the other hand, was supposed to battle Japanese veteran Yoshihiro Akiyama, who suffered a torn bicep injury.

Both former world lightweight champions for the Singapore-based promotion will now put an explosive end to their historic trilogy on the lead card of "ONE on TNT IV."

Aoki is coming off three-straight victories entering the contest and is eyeing another shot at the title currently held by Christian Lee.

READ ALSO: Christian Lee Needs To Look Outside ONE Championship To Prove 'Top Lightweight' Claim

At No. 4 in the lightweight rankings, Aoki scoring a decisive win over Folayang would definitely boost his chances of securing one final dance for a belt before he hangs it up for good.

But the 36-year-old knows it will not be easy against the Filipino warrior whom he has high respect for.

"He is one of the best [fighters] I faced. He's a great fighter," Aoki said of Folayang, adding his foe is ready despite last-minute changes.

"I believe he's ready for this fight. He has been training for his fight on April 29 (April 28 in the US), so I think he's ready."

It was Folayang who got the better of Aoki when they met initially back in November 2016, scoring a third-round stoppage to capture the ONE lightweight championship.

In their rematch in Tokyo, Japan three years later, Aoki served revenge in spectacular fashion, submitting Folayang with an arm-triangle choke in the very first round.

In spite of having lost four of his last five fights and not being in the cage since October 2020, the 37-year-old Team Lakay fighter maintained that he is "ready to go to war."

“This next fight is very important. It’s an important juncture in my career. Right now, the team is helping me prepare as always, and I am highly motivated to get this win. I have a pack of ferocious lions behind me, helping me sharpen my tools,” Folayang declared.

“I’m ready to go to war. Mentally and physically, I’m going to bring the best Eduard Folayang to the Circle.”

More importantly, the upcoming fight might dictate the next chapter of Folayang's respectable MMA career.

While pundits have been pushing for his opponent to retire for years, Aoki knows only Folayang can decide what comes for him next.

"I am in no position to answer that. I think Eduard is the only person who can answer that," Aoki stated.

Aoki added that he cannot make a prediction for what is possibly their final face-off on the ONE Championship stage.

"That's a tough question to answer. But in a fight, anything can happen. He (Folayang) may or may not bring something new. He's a great fighter, and surely, he will make some adjustments," Aoki shared.

Eduard Folayang_Shinya Aoki_ONE Championship
Filipino MMA hero Eduard Folayang (red trunks) tries to land a kick against Japanese world champion Shinya Aoki (white) during a title fight for Singapore-based promotion ONE Championship. ONE Championship