Both Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson, former UFC champions, announced that they have joined ONE Championship within two weeks of each other. The news obviously ran up many headlines. The Johnson for Ben Askren trade in particular was the biggest acquisition in history for the Asia-based promotion.
Alvarez, 34, has won world championships in the biggest mixed martial arts promotions in the world, and has made it clear that he’s intent on capturing a third major title.
“I’m looking forward to competing with the best lightweights in the world once again, what really excites me is the idea of, I went all across the world and fought with all of the best promotions in the world, and what I really look forward to is winning a third world championship title at ONE Championship against the best lightweights that are there,” Alvarez said in his opening remarks during the conference call for the ONE: HEART OF THE LION event on Friday, 9 November in Singapore.
With his arrival, Alvarez bolsters an already talent-rich lightweight division, which features some of the promotion’s biggest stars such as former ONE Lightweight World Champions Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang, just to name a few.
Known for his fan-friendly and aggressive style of competition, Alvarez will definitely have a number of matchups to look forward to in ONE Championship’s 77.1-kilogram division.
The most talked about, of course, is a potential trilogy matchup with Japanese superstar Aoki, who is currently the number one contender to the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Alvarez and Aoki have crossed paths twice before, with each man getting a win, which makes a third and deciding bout all the more intriguing. Add the element of a world championship, and you will have on your hands a possible match of the year candidate.
Another exciting matchup for Alvarez would be another former world champion in Folayang, the Filipino striker from the famed Team Lakay stable in Baguio City.
Alvarez and Folayang are two of the hardest hitters in the division, making their potential showdown a treat for martial arts fans.
Folayang is attempting a second run at the ONE Lightweight World Championship when he meets Amir Khan for the vacant title at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS on 23 November in Manila.
Speaking of Khan, the Singaporean knockout artist is yet another interesting potential opponent for Alvarez.
Hailed as Singapore’s most talented homegrown mixed martial artist, the well-rounded Khan certainly poses a real challenge to anyone in the division, even a competitor the caliber of Alvarez.
Certainly, a showdown with ONE Championship’s first ever two-division world champion Martin Nguyen would be a must-see for fans as well, given that both athletes are known for putting on an exciting show.
While the possibilities are endless for Alvarez, the Philadelphia-native says that he’s willing to take on all comers on his road to the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
“What I’m doing is I’m looking forward to another crop of the best lightweights in the world who could possibly be unknown and I’m going to welcome that with open arms and go after this world title. It’s more the ONE Championship world title than an actual guy. I signed on the dotted line with Chatri and he’s going to give me my opponent, and one by one, we’re going to figure out how to beat these guys and get to that belt,” he expressed.
Johnson, nicknamed “Mighty Mouse”, on the other hand is the latest world champion to call ONE Championship home.
The former UFC Flyweight Champion is widely considered the top pound-for-pound MMA fighter today. Chatri Sityodtong, ONE’s Chairman and CEO refers to him as the greatest in history. Johnson has made his excitement for his new venture known.
Throughout the ONE’s seven-year run, they’ve managed to build a roster of around 450 athletes, and 104 of them are world champions across all disciplines of martial arts.
And while that’s already an astounding number of talent housed under one umbrella, Sityodtong says they aren’t done scouring the globe for talent yet.
“We are upgrading our roster everywhere, but we already have 104 world champions from various martial arts, Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, MMA, BJJ, etcetera, and our roster of 450 athletes, if you look at the ratio, 104 world champions, it’s the largest collection of world champions from martial arts, globally,” Sityodtong shared.
“Eddie is the first of our big signings. DJ was next, but I think you will be surprised by announcements coming in the future,” he concluded.
Which martial artists would you like to see sign with ONE Championship in the future?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/1/2018.