Former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, who recently signed with Singapore’s ONE Championship, hasn’t had the chance to thoroughly examine the promotion’s lightweight division just yet. That being said, he expects to get very familiar with his peers in the division very soon.
“No I’m not entirely familiar,” Eddie Alvarez said in response to BJPENN.COM on Wednesday’s ONE: Heart of the Lion media conference call. “Today when I’m on Twitter they put a poll out for possible opponents to fight. That was kind of the first time I understood who the top contenders there are.”
Who should Eddie Alvarez face in his ONE debut?
A) Shinya Aoki
B) Saygid "Dagi" Guseyn Arslanaliev
C) Amir Khan
D) Eduard Folayang
Make your pick in the comments! @ealvarezfight #WeAreONE #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/WJvGhLfwex
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) October 17, 2018
As this poll suggests, there are several compelling options for Alvarez’s ONE Championship debut.
One option is the winner of Amir Khan and Eduard Folayang’s November 23 fight, which will crown the new ONE lightweight champion. Another is a rubber match with a familiar face in Japanese legend Shinya Aoki, who has been promised the first shot at the Khan-Folayang winner. Another still is Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev, who recently burst into title contention with a drubbing of the highly-regard Timofey Nastyukhin.
Other than his former rival Aoki, Eddie Alvarez doesn’t seem too familiar with these other fighters. That being said, he assures he’ll familiarize himself with whichever opponent he’s matched up with.
“I study my opponents,” Alvarez said. “I kind of dive deep into understanding my opponents, understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are. I’ll know who’s who and what’s what very soon.”
While Eddie Alvarez has not yet been given an opponent for his ONE debut, he believes that debut will occur sometime early in 2019, and he’s excited to fight for a promotion where weight-cutting isn’t part of the culture.
“I believe I’ll debut in early 2019,” he said. “It’s going to be incredible. And I promise you guys, everybody that has seen my fight at 155, you guys are in for a show if I don’t have to cut this weight.”
With Eduard Folayang and Amir Khan fighting for lightweight gold on November 23, it’s conceivable that Shinya Aoki could receive his shot at the winner before Alvarez debuts. Alvarez could then debut against the Folayang-Khan-Aoki winner in the new year — perhaps even as part of ONE’s anticipated spring debut in Japan. Then again, he could also take a fight with the dangerous “Dagi” in the meantime.
How do you think Eddie Alvarez will perform in the ONE lightweight division?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/17/2018.