Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki could settle trilogy at One Championship debut in Tokyo
One Championship boss keeps cards close to chest regarding debut of new star signing, but former UFC champion is welcome to idea of Japan homecoming
The “Underground King” may not stay out of sight much longer, with all signs pointing to Eddie Alvarez making his One Championship debut at their marquee Tokyo debut in March 2019.
Alvarez arrives in a wide open lightweight division after Martin Nguyen vacated the title because of a knee injury, and the former UFC champion confirmed he will make his bow early next year.
That could set him up for a rubber match against Japanese veteran Shinya Aoki. The Japanese veteran beat Alvarez in K-1 on home turf 10 years ago, but the American exacted his revenge in Bellator in 2012.
“Aoki has just messaged me two days ago saying he wants to fight Eddie again in the trilogy,” One Championship CEO and chairman Chatri Sityodtong told a conference call on Thursday.
“That’s obviously a huge fight for Japanese fans who love Eddie and who love Shinya. I think that fight will happen down the road.
“I don’t know when, let’s see how things shake out. I think they’ll end up meeting at some point.”
Japan is a huge potential market for One, and is the country where Alvarez made his name by winning the Dream promotion’s inaugural Lightweight Grand Prix in 2008.
Former One lightweight champion Aoki will surely be a star attraction for One’s March 31 show, though the Singapore-based organisation will also return to Japan in October.
“I’d love to give the Japanese fans what they want, I owe a lot to them,” Alvarez said. “I have a boss now and when he gives me an opponent and a date, I’m gonna show up.
“We have a laundry list of exciting match-ups I’m sure that are gonna happen. I’ve never been one to pick opponents.
“I wanna fight the best guys, no matter who it is. Whether it’s Aoki or whoever, my opponent right now is not my concern.
“If you guys look at my resume, I probably haven’t taken an easy fight in ... I can’t think of the last time. Whoever’s in front of me, they’re gonna receive my high, violent pace.”
Also a two-time lightweight champion in Bellator, Alvarez is looking to make it a hat-trick of world titles in One Championship.
“I’m gonna walk them all back with open arms and go after this world title. It’s more the title I’m after than an actual guy,” he said.
“I signed on the dotted line with Chatri, he’s gonna give me my opponents. One by one we’re gonna figure out a way to beat these guys and get to that belt.
“My only agenda in One is to prove myself against the top lightweights they have. If Chatri wants to do a Grand Prix, we can figure out this championship thing real quick. I’m up for anything, but I’m not making the decisions here.”
Alvarez began his MMA career in 2003 at welterweight, where he didn’t have to cut any weight, and won his first 10 fights all by stoppage in the first two rounds.
It wasn’t until his 11th fight that he actually cut down to lightweight, at 155lbs, where he suffered his first loss in 2007.
But whereas lightweights in UFC walk around at 180-190lbs and then cut down to 155, in One Championship the lightweight fighters compete at 169.
“We try to promote walk-around weight – it’s no different, it’s just a healthier way,” Sityodtong said. “It preserves the body, the brain, and there’s also less risk of injuries or any other serious issues that come from massive dehydration.
“You’re gonna see the best of Eddie as a result. He’ll be fully-hydrated the whole fight week, the whole camp, no BS of cutting 20 pounds.”
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Thank you , Thank you ,Thank you to all my fans and Underground Kings our there for your incredible support as we join @onechampionship @ballengeegroup @yodchatri in the quest for championship Gold #getthestrap #beltcollector #thnq #undergroundking
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Alvarez quipped in response that while “it’s healthy for me, it’s gonna be dangerous for my opponent” which raised a laugh from his new boss.
“Everybody who has seen me fight at 155, you guys are in for a show if I don’t have to cut this weight,” Alvarez added. “I feel like I’ll keep my explosiveness.
“If I could pick a dream weight, a dream situation, this would be it – fully hydrated at 169 walking on the scale, possibly drinking and eating full meals and then going from there.
“I’ve been cutting weight since I was 15, there’s not a healthy way to do that. The whole idea is unhealthy.
“To be able to compete within a 15-, 20-hour time frame immediately after being severely dehydrated is tough.”