Eddie Alvarez has his sights set on winning the ONE Championship lightweight title and plans to destroy everyone in his path to achieve that goal.
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The former UFC and Bellator champion was one of ONE Championship’s many notable signings in 2018. When he made the switch over to the Asian-based promotion, many were quick to point out that a potential trilogy fight with Shinya Aoki was a realistic possibility.
For now, however, Aoki is tied to a ONE Lightweight Championship bout against current champion Eduard Folayang. That fight is set to take place this weekend in Tokyo, Japan, during the ONE: A New Era fight card, the exact card that will feature the promotional debut of Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson.
At the ONE Championship: A New Era press conference today in Toyko, Japan, Alvarez was asked about whether a potential rematch with Shinya Aoki excites him. Alvarez admitted that he couldn’t be any less interested in that particular fight.
“I’m super focused on the Grand Prix. I have no concerns about Shinya Aoki; he doesn’t even hold the belt,” Alvarez stated.
“I’m not being disrespectful, a lot of people ask me about Shinya, but he’s not even the belt holder. My concern is the guy in front of me, Timofey [Nastyukhin], I’d be disrespecting him if I thought about anyone else, but if I have my eyes on anything it’s this shiny thing up here. I don’t really see a guy in front of it. I just want that world title. It’s the only one I don’t have. That’s all I’ve got my eyes on.”
Those familiar with Eddie Alvarez are well aware that it typically takes “The Underground King” a little adversity before he kicks into gear inside the cage.
He may need to rely on that trait as he steps into the contest with Timofey Nastyukhin this weekend. ONE featherweight champion Martin Nguyen is one athlete, in particular, who feels as though Nastyukhin can cause a major upset this weekend.
“I asked for it, and I got it,” Alvarez responded when asked about whether he views Nastyukhin to be an especially dangerous opponent.
“Look, I don’t say it to be a tough guy or try to be something I’m not, I know how I respond to dangerous things. I usually respond in a way that I don’t even know I’m capable of. I’m looking forward to someone getting in my face and doing some damage, and then I’ll let that dog come out.”
Adjusting to ONE Championship
Although it won’t be Eddie Alvarez’s first time competing in Japan, it’ll be his first time competing under ONE Championship’s unique rule set and scoring system. The promotion scores bouts in their entirety and not round-by-round like other major promotions. Furthermore, suplexes are considered an illegal technique, and knees to the head of a downed opponent are allowed.
Alvarez guarantees that the scoring system won’t change the way he fights.
“My intentions are always to go inside the cage and dominate my opponent from start to finish,” Alvarez explained.
“I don’t try to win rounds. If you ever watch any of my fights, I’m not interested in winning rounds or trying to play the grey areas and the rules of MMA. I’m here to dominate from start to finish. I love the ruleset; I think it’s old school PRIDE.”
However, Alvarez did admit to training a little differently for his debut with the promotion.
“I started my training camp four months ago because the tournament means I’ll be fighting all year long. I’ve had a number of training partners, Marlon Moraes, Zabit [Magomedsharipov], and all the guys who come from Dagestan come over to help me prepare, and I help them with their training camps, as well as Robin Van Roosmalen to help sharpen things up.”
“It’s been a very long training camp, and not only was I concerned about getting my body ready but getting my mind sharp for what’s about to be ahead of me. My mind and body are ready and I’m ready to perform.”
Eddie Alvarez battles Timofey Nastyukhin in the first round of the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix at ONE: A New Era on Sunday, March 31.
Formerly the lead MMA Editor at RealSport.