There are few martial artists in the world who have accomplished as much or more than Eddie Alvarez has in his 15-year, 36-bout career. That’s why ONE Championship’s recent signing of the Underground King was such a big deal.
The 34-year-old has won multiple championships with a number of different organizations, but he hasn’t conquered a division in ONE. During a global press conference to promote the upcoming ONE: HEART OF THE LION event in Singapore in November, and to introduce Alvarez, the 34-year-old talked about his upcoming challenge, new opportunity, and organization.
“My career has brought me all across the globe,” Alvarez said. “I have surveyed the competition, and it looks fierce. I am excited to be able to test my skills against some of ONE Championship’s best talent. This is no doubt a huge move for my career, and I am proud to be able to represent the true authentic values of martial arts. I am a martial artist at heart, and ONE Championship stands for everything that I believe in this sport. It is an honor to join this incredible organization.”
Despite receiving offers from other organizations, Alvarez chose to continue his martial arts career with ONE.
ONE has already established itself as the premier martial arts organization in all of Asia, but now the organization’s influence and appeal are rising with those in North America. Alvarez is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States, and he turned down offers from stateside promotions to come to ONE. For him to make the decision to perform for an organization that is based in Singapore says something about the momentum and status of his new promotion.
Alvarez is in a position to be a trendsetter. Don’t be shocked if other free agents follow suit. During the conference call, Alvarez lauded ONE’s true martial arts ethics, it’s humane approach to weight management and the spirit of competition. His decision to take his talents to ONE could have a ripple effect that leads to more American and western talent inquiring about joining ONE’s roster.
If those martial artist’s value systems and competitive approach align with the culture CEO Chatri Sityodtong and other leaders have cultivated, the new additions could further expand what is already an incredibly diverse roster within ONE.
There are a number of intriguing opponents who could theoretically challenge Alvarez early on during his stint with ONE. He has expressed an interest to compete at or near 169 pounds where the list of potential opponents is long, including familiar adversaries like Shinya Aoki.
Alvarez has already split two previous bouts with the Japanese legend. A third bout with Aoki would be an appealing match–especially if Aoki can regain the lightweight title in March 2019 in Tokyo.
Alvarez will bring a new set of eyes that may have been blind to the qualities ONE Championship brings to martial arts. When they see Alvarez challenged by hungry and accomplished martial artists, everyone associated stands to gain. In the next five to seven years, as ONE continues to grow, we may look back on the Alvarez signing as one of the most important in ONE history.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/22/2018.