Well MMA fans, the cat is finally out the bag. For months we have been wondering what former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez’s next move would be in his MMA career, what organization he would fight for next since hitting free agency.
On Monday night, we finally got our answer as Eddie Alvarez is now officially signed to the ONE Championship roster.
Speaking on a media conference call yesterday afternoon, the seasoned veteran explained how his free agency process went, as well as why he eventually chose to come to ONE Championship.
“Without getting too much into it, we had offers from all around the world,” said Alvarez. “We got offers from just about everyone you can think. Everyone expressed interest. The idea of ONE Championship, it’s the only major organization I haven’t held world title in. I won the Bellator title twice during my career, I won the UFC title during my career and as far as I’m concerned, ONE is the only major organization that I haven’t got to touch that world title belt.
“For myself, for my family, for my fans and everyone, this would mean that I would have a chance at making history. Possibly history that could never be made again. It would take a fighter 20 years in the fight game to be able to fight for these major organization, and it’s almost like a lottery ticket to be able to win one world title. So to be able to go to every major organization, fight their best guys in the world, to fight the best guys in that organization and then beat them all one-by-one and win that world title, means the world to me.
“If I was to retire, and there was an organization out there that was the best in the world and I wasn’t able [to fight there], and people would come to me and they would go, ‘Yeah, but he didn’t win the ONE world title’ – that would bug me. I’m going to save myself that bother and fly to Asia and take on the best lightweights there and win that world title.”
In regards to whether the UFC tried to retain him, Alvarez simply said the UFC did their absolute best but it could not compare from what ONE Championship had to offer.
“The offer from ONE was too good to turn down,” said Alvarez. “Considering what the average pay of an athlete is at the UFC, I believe the UFC did a great job. But, they have a business model. They pay a certain amount for certain fighters for certain reasons. It is what it is. There’s no harm, no foul. It’s a business first with these promotions. ONE looked out for me, looked out for my family and understands my wants and my needs and I think it’s important to return the favor.”
One major factor in Alvarez coming to ONE, is that the company has a ban in place on weight cutting by dehydration in favor of having their fighters compete at their natural weight which they normally walk around at.
Basically this means Alvarez would no longer have to destroy his body to make the 155 pound weight limit being that the organization’s weight limit is 169 pounds.
“I love the idea,” said Alvarez when asked about ONE’s weight cut regulations. “I’ve been an advocate of it for years. If people haven’t followed me long enough, they would know I started my career at welterweight (170 pounds). I never cut weight. I went 10-1 as a welterweight. Almost every single fight, I won in the first round by way of knockout by not cutting any weight at all. That’s how I started my career. It wasn’t until my 11th fight that I actually cut down to to 155. So I’m going to enjoy being full hydrated. I’ll keep my explosiveness. I believe I’ll fight at 169 because we’ll need to be full hydrated.
“I’ve been cutting weight since I was 15 years old. There’s not a healthy way to do that. The whole idea is unhealthy. To have to compete within a 15 or 20 hour frame immediately after being severely dehydrated is a tough thing to do. I don’t mind it and I’ve done it for years but I’m very excited at the idea of being full hydrated, not making that weight cut and being able to compete at my walk-around weight. It’s healthy for me but it’s going to be dangerous for my opponent.”
One those future opponents that could be lined up for Alvarez, is somebody he’s most familiar with, Brazilian jiu jitsu sensation Shinya Aoki.
In their feud history, both men each hold a win over the other, Aoki via submission in their very first bout back in 2009, and Alvarez in a rematch via TKO in 2012.
Now that both fighters are once again in the same company, it’s only right they settle the score in a rubber match.
Alvarez though, does not seem to worried about Aoki’s presence.
“I don’t think signing with ONE was about the opponent,” said Alvarez. “Nor does it ever mean anything about the opponent when I sign with a promotion. I know the best guys in the world are unfound. I’m a testament to that. When I hear fans say ‘the best guys fight here or the best guys fight here or the best in the world are here,’ I know that’s not completely true. I’m the guy that fought for every promotion, was virtually unknown and became champion of every promotion.
“So, again, I’m looking for the best crop of lightweights in the world who are possibly known. I’m going to welcome that with open arms going after this title. It’s more the ONE world championship title that I’m after than an actual guy.”
Should Alvarez be able to win the ONE lightweight championship, he’d once again make history as being the only man to win championships from all the three major current MMA organizations in the world in the UFC, Bellator, and ONE Championship.
“I honestly don’t have the ability – and this could be a sickness of mine – I don’t have the ability to be happy with my current achievements,” said Alvarez on his motivation to keep fighting. “No matter what I’ve done, fans say ‘what more do you have to prove? You won the Bellator world title and the UFC world title.’ Inside, I wish felt like that. But I never do. There’s sort of a war going on inside of me that says ‘there’s more to do, there’s more to improve and there’s things to be done.’
“I have trouble resting. I have trouble being comfortable. After fighting for so long, being comfortable is being uncomfortable.”
So now the question is, when can ONE Championship fans expect to see Eddie Alvarez make his ONE Championship debut?
Alvarez says after a trip to Singapore China to meet the rest of the ONE Championship staff, before he partakes in their next upcoming event ONE: Heart of a Lion.
Once that’s done, he hopes to debut for ONE Championship as soon as early 2019.
“I’d imagine early 2019 is when I’m going to debut,” said Alvarez. “We haven’t gotten the details yet. The biggest thing is getting to know each other and gaining trust from each other…So I believe I’ll debut in early 2019. It’s going to be incredible. Everyone who has seen me fight at 155, you’re in for a show if I don’t have to cut this weight.”