One of the premier bouts at ONE Championship’s 10-year anniversary spectacle, ONE X, will be the retirement match of Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr. The 45-year-old will be going after his 100th professional victory against former ONE lightweight MMA champion, Eduard Folayang.
The opportunity to be on this stage is not lost on Parr, who is grateful to end his legendary career on his own terms.
“This is ONE Championship world champion versus Muay Thai world champion, so it doesn’t get any bigger,” said Parr. “I’m very excited for the opportunity to share the cage with Eduard Folayang.
“Mr. Chatri [Sityodtong] presented the fight to me. For my retirement fight, he wanted to do a legend-versus-legend match. And Mr. Folayang is a legend, a superstar in the Philippines. And what he brings to the table, too, is not your classic Muay Thai striking style. It’s going to be very unpredictable, very dangerous, and exciting. I’m expecting him to spin maybe once or twice during the match.”
The Aussie knows he will hold the advantage under ONE Super Series Muay Thai rules, but he understands that danger lurks with the unpredictability of the Wushu striker.
“Even with this fight camp, I’m trying to savor every moment – just enjoy the whole process from the first day all the way through,” said Parr. “I’m enjoying the time with the boys on the road running, getting on the pads, boxing, the whole business. It motivates me to push harder, because I want to go out and finish with the win. And knowing it’s the last time I might be sore, why not appreciate putting myself into the pressure cooker and be as fit as possible, be as strong as possible?
“I have to focus on his unpredictability and get my timing right, so I don’t walk into anything silly. Not to be too cautious, but I have to be very wary of where I’m at the whole time – range, distancing.”
With Folayang transitioning over into Muay Thai, Parr plans to stay fundamentally sound and force the Filipino to play his game.
“Timing is crucial in this one. I can’t get over-excited,” admitted the Aussie. “I can’t just jump in. I’ve got to pick my shots wisely and make it exciting for the fans. I want to make people leave their chairs. This will be one of the first events that ONE has had a crowd [since COVID-19]. I want to hear that screaming and excitement when two warriors go at it.”
If he can execute his game plan, Parr will walk away with his 100th Muay Thai victory. The importance of the feat is not simply that it is a round number – it is a rare accomplishment for Western athletes who compete in the sport. Notching that mark would be befitting of the legendary figure of Western Muay Thai.
“I want to be at that elite level,” said Parr. “There’s not many of us here, especially Westerners. Thais get 300, 400 wins. For Westerners, if they get 100 wins, it’s such a big deal. So I’m really excited to get that monkey off my back and finally reach my potential and retire satisfied, knowing that I’ve given everything in my career.”
If he doesn’t get the win, this fight will still herald the end of his career, however.
The wars have taken a toll, and Parr has plenty more to enjoy, as his daughter, Jazzy, eyes mixed martial arts, but his time as an active competitor is at its close.
“This is the one for sure,” said the Aussie legend. “In May, I’ll be 46 years old. As much as I don’t want to admit, Father Time is undefeated. The body doesn’t like me fighting anymore. It’s getting too sore and too broken. To continue on my merry way, I have to make sure I finish in ONE on a high.
There’s probably going to be a bit of a tear down the cheek perhaps. It could be very sad. The bottom lip could be quivering. It’s going to be very emotional. I’m just going to try and soak it all up. This is the last time that I get to hear that applause, so I want to make the most of it.
“With One Championship leading the way with millions and millions of viewers, it’s so exciting to get out there and compete on such a massive scale. In my first fight with Nieky [Holzken], even though it wasn’t the best fight I’ve ever had, I got up the next morning, and I had close to 3,000 private messages from people all over the world. I’ve never been so inundated before. So to have my final fight for ONE, I couldn’t think of a bigger way to get sent off.”
And no bigger sendoff could he have than as a part of the ONE X: Grand Finale card. 2022’s biggest martial arts spectacular is almost here and it will be your last chance to see “The Gunslinger.”
ONE X airs live in its entirety on the ONE Championship website on Saturday, Mar. 26, beginning with ONE X: Part I at 1 a.m. ET, followed by ONE X: Part II begins at 5 a.m. ET. The action then moves to ONE Championship’s pay-per-view at 8 a.m. ET for the ONE X: Grand Finale.
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