First two bouts of ONE Championship Lightweight Grand Prix set

Eddie Alvarez, ONE Championship

The highly-anticipated ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix will be underway beginning January 25 at ONE Championship’s anticipated return to Manila.

It was announced earlier by the promotion that Team Lakay veteran Honorio “The Rock” Banario will be taking on undefeated American Lowen Tynanes of Hawaii in the quarterfinal. Two months later, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez takes his first swipe at the tournament against Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin at ONE’s first event in Tokyo on March 31.

Other bouts have yet to be announced.

ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced the Grand Prix late last year and instantly caused a tidal wave of excitement in the mixed martial arts industry. Fans love a good eight-man tournament, and it would go a long way in determining the true king of the ONE lightweight division.

ONE’s current lightweight titleholder is Banario’s teammate Eduard Folayang, who is scheduled to defend the ONE Lightweight World Title against Japanese legend Shinya Aoki also in Tokyo.

Banario, who is coming off a victory over Singapore’s Rahul Raju, is likely facing the toughest challenge in his career in Tynanes. Tynanes is a very hard puncher and an exceptional wrestler. He owns victories over some of the biggest names in the ONE lightweight division including top contenders Rasul Yakhyaev and Koji Ando.

Tynanes is most known however for his TKO victory over Folayang, before the latter joined ONE Championship and went on an incredible run through the ranks.

One thing going for Banario is that Tynanes has not competed professionally for nearly three years. He last fought April 2016 but has since been largely inactive.

Eddie Alvarez, UFC 232

Alvarez, on the other hand, is a former UFC champion most recently famous for his highly-publicized bout against Conor McGregor in 2016. “The Underground King” held the lightweight title at the time before succumbing to the Irishman via 2nd round TKO.

After his loss to McGregor, Alvarez knocked out Justin Gaethje via 3rd round knee strike, and lost to Dustin Poirier in a tremendous matchup last July, wherein he was stopped in the 2nd round.

The American doesn’t seem to have an easy road to the final bracket, having to face Nastyukhin who is considered one of the most dangerous lightweights in ONE Championship. 10 of Nastyukhin’s 12 victories have come by finish, and he is both capable on the feet and on the ground.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/4/2019.

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM