Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin (12-4, 6 KOS, 4 Subs) has been competing in combat sports for a long time.
He began training in Pankration when he was just a child, and wound up winning a European championship in the sport at a young age. Buoyed by his success in Pankration, he then transitioned into MMA at 18 years old, and after a seven-fight win streak — all stoppages — he was invited to ONE Championship, where he debuted with a jaw-dropping, flying knee knockout of current lightweight champion Eduard Folayang.
At ONE: A New Era on March 31 in Tokyo, Japan, however, Timofey Nastyukhin will face a challenge the likes of which he hasn’t seen in all his years of competition. He’s been tasked with welcoming former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to ONE Championship. The pair will collide in the first round of the promotion’s anticipated Lightweight Grand Prix.
Given his status as one of ONE Championship’s premier lightweights, Nastyukhin suspected he might be picked as Alvarez’s debut opponent, and when the call came, he leapt at the chance.
“I knew that when Eddie signed with ONE Championship, we would compete together in the Grand Prix, so I was not surprised with it,” he told BJPENN.com of the matchup. “I love big challenges and this is a fight that could not be rejected. I’m happy to share cage with him.”
Having accepted this colossal collision with Eddie Alvarez, Timofey Nastyukhin is now dedicating himself to the task at hand, interspersing his duties as a father and husband with long hours at the gym.
“I am in my city starting training now,” he said. “We have studied him and know now what he will do in the fight, so I am training for him now.”
“I watched many of his fights, especially the recent ones, and I know what to do in this fight.”
Eddie Alvarez has a reputation as one of the world’s most aggressive and ferocious fighters. In Nastyukhin, however, he might well have met his equal in these departments.
The Russian believes he can match the former UFC and Bellator champion in terms of striking, aggression and endurance, but admits he’ll need to be wary of his foe’s wrestling.
“He has good wrestling, he is tough, experienced and strong,” Nastyukhin said of Alvarez. “I can offer him striking exchanges, aggression, and my endurance is really good. I am also becoming more well-rounded fighter, working on all areas, so it is not going to be easy fight for Eddie.”
While Timofey Nastyukhin assures he is a dangerous test for Eddie Alvarez, he understands that he’s far from the biggest name the former champion has fought.
Alvarez has spent the last few years battling stars like Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor, Rafael dos Anjos, and Anthony Pettis, and given the strength of his recent opposition, some fans have wondered if he might end up taking his foes in ONE Championship lightly.
Nastyukhin hopes this is the case.
“For sure, my profile is not the best among Eddie’s recent opponents,” he admitted. “If he underestimates me, it is good for me.”
Given Timofey Nastyukhin and Eddie Alvarez’s shared predilection for unforgettable fights, many fight fans believe their upcoming bout could go down as an instant classic.
Nastyukhin promises it will.
“I am really excited about this fight,” he said. “It will be brawl, a really spectacular fight. I never give up or back down.”
“I have just positive emotions and thoughts,” he continued. “The hard work has begun now, and now I need to reach my peak physically and psychologically. I promise my fans this will be a spectacular and aggressive fight. Don’t blink!”
Do you think Timofey Nastyukhin can spoil the ONE Championship debut of Eddie Alvarez?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/7/2019.