Former champion Eddie Alvarez swaps UFC for One Championship in massive coup for Singapore-based rival MMA body
Former UFC lightweight champion ends free agency by signing with emerging Asian body
UFC is the world leader in MMA governing bodies and boasts some of the biggest stars in the sport, but Alvarez’s signing significantly boosts the appeal of the Asian pretender which lists drawcards like Angela Lee, Aung La N Sang and the unbeaten but semi-retired American star Ben Askren among its ranks.
The signing is being seen as a massive statement of intent from One, which was established in 2011 but has quickly developed a huge audience with regular productions in the Asia-Pacific region.
Please join me in welcoming Eddie Alvarez to @ONEChampionship! I am super excited for our fans to witness Eddie's high octane, explosive dynamite KO style. Stay tuned for more big news! @Ealvarezfight pic.twitter.com/bM3K0COlie
— Chatri Sityodtong (@YODCHATRI) October 16, 2018
One CEO and chairman Chatri Sityodtong called the signing of Alvarez “one of the biggest athlete signings” in the history of the promotion. He announced the news on his official Twitter account on Tuesday morning.
Although terms of his new deal with One Championship were not disclosed, Alvarez indicated he was pleased with how the negotiations went.
“This couldn’t have went any smoother,” Alvarez said. “Didn’t take too long, everybody’s happy. I’m super excited. ‘The Underground King’ is coming to ONE FC [sic].”
The 34-year-old Alvarez (29-6, 1NC) is a former title-holder in UFC as well as Bellator, but is perhaps best known for a crushing defeat to a rising Conor McGregor in the first defence of his lightweight title in November 2016.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist was beaten in his most recent and final UFC bout against Dustin Poirier in July.
The Pennsylvania-native became embroiled in a contract dispute with White, his employer at UFC, saying he wanted better terms on a new deal at the conclusion of this previous contract with the Las Vegas-based outfit. During his contract dispute, Alvarez had been vocal about what he brought to the organisation.
“I look at who I fought – co-main and main events, some of the largest cards in UFC history. With the McGregor fight, sell-out crowd, selling out MSG,” Alvarez said. “I’ve been involved in some pretty lucrative (fights) and I feel like I should be shared with a little more considering. It is what it is. That’s business, man. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
The One lightweight title is vacant since former champion Martin Nguyen relinquished the 155-pound belt due to injury.
Alvarez is already being tipped to face the Australian Nguyen sooner rather than later.