Last October ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced a blockbuster addition to the promotion’s stacked lightweight division in the form of former UFC and Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez.
Alvarez started his martial arts journey when he was in high school as a wrestler. He later incorporated a few more disciplines and went on to become a professional mixed martial artist to support his family.
After winning the first few bouts of his career in North America, Alvarez then moved to Asia and competed in one of Japan’s top promotions, DREAM, where he made a name for himself before moving back to the United States.
Now, over a decade later, “The Underground King” is set to return to Japan to make his ONE Championship debut this 31 March. Alvarez is scheduled to face Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin in the quarter-finals of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
For Alvarez, making his ONE debut in Tokyo holds special significance.
“It was important to me, when I came here to ONE, to do my first fight here in Tokyo as a sign of appreciation for the fans and for what they have done for me 10 years ago,” Alvarez said.
“This is always like a special place for me, I started my career here in Japan with a Grand Prix and now I’m back with another Grand Prix.”
The decorated champion felt a little nostalgic as he recalls his first match, which took place in Saitama.
“I always enjoy being here. I’d bring my family along and we always have a good time,” Alvarez said.
“When we did my very first fight here it was at a sumo arena. I believe that this time it’s gonna be a really special event at a special time. And I have to thank my fans for that,”
Eddie Alvarez promises his fans that they can anticipate great performances from him starting with his match at ONE: A NEW ERA against Timofey Nastyukhin.
“Expect a lot of high-paced fighting and non-stop action. I like to feel my opponent, feel the energy of the crowd, and then unleash my training. Unleash my preparation on my opponent,” Alvarez concluded.
Alvarez is now laser-focused on his upcoming bout given that this opportunity may lead him to the ONE Lightweight World Title.
By Dan Paulo Errazo
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/19/2019.