Most fans familiar with the UFC would assume former lightweight champion and new ONE Championship star Eddie Alvarez (29-6) will emerge triumphant in ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
“The Underground King” takes on Timofey Nastyukhin (12-4) in a quarterfinal clash at ONE Championship: A New Era on March 31. Given Alvarez’s past success in tournaments in Bellator and DREAM, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him do just that either.
However, one fighter thinks Alvarez won’t even make it past the quarterfinals and that’s former ONE lightweight champion and current featherweight champion Martin Nguyen. Speaking to John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock recently, “The Situ-Asian” explained his reasoning as a lack of hunger from the Philadelphia native.
“My breakdown is I see Timofey beating Eddie. By decision, by knockout, I see Timofey beating Eddie in every department. Hats off to Eddie, he’s a legend, he’s a very good fighter, a very good mixed martial artist. But watching his last few fights, I don’t see the hunger as what it was moving from [DREAM] to Bellator to the UFC. I don’t see that hunger anymore now that he’s moved from the UFC to ONE Championship.”
“He could prove me wrong; he could prove a lot of people wrong. Timofey was winning that fight against [Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev] until he got caught, he was knocked out. But in terms of Timofey as a fighter, he’s just a crazy fighter. He breaks his leg against [Kotetsu Boku] and he’s still fighting… I see a hunger in Timofey, wanting to win this fight.”
Alvarez has won just once in his last four, losing two of those fights via TKO. But despite predicting a win for his opponent, Nguyen doesn’t believe Alvarez’s chin is completely gone.
“Alvarez has a fairly good chin for the amount of hits he’s caught, but I think the only time he’s really been exposed for that chin was against Conor [McGregor]. But the other fights he’s been hit, he’s come back and [been] doing the hitting against [Dustin] Poirier, I think twice now, and Justin Gaethje.”
“As I said, he’s a very good martial artist, very good fighter, he’s put in his time in the game. Everyone respects him no matter what he does. But in terms of a hunger to win, I see Timofey just that tiny bit hungrier because he’s facing a legend and he obviously wants to make a stance in his MMA fight career, and I think Timofey will come away with this one.”