ONE Championship lightweight contender Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez will be thousands of miles away from his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he makes his highly-anticipated promotional debut in Tokyo on March 31.
The 35-year-old multiple-time Mixed Martial Arts World Champion is scheduled to face Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin in the quarter-final round of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix, set for ONE: A NEW ERA — ONE Championship’s first ever event in Japan.
But Asia is far from a foreign environment for the American. In fact, it holds a special spot in his heart as the place where he first made his mark as professional martial artist.
Alvarez’s star truly began to shine when he competed in Japanese promotion Dream’s Grand Prix tournament, where he made his mark on the global martial arts scene with the kind of eye-catching knockouts that he would later become renowned for, including an emphatic finish of Japanese local hero Tatsuya Kawajiri in 2008.
Over 10 years later, “The Underground King” will return to a city that he openly admits holds plenty of sentimental value.
“I’ve never felt more appreciated in my life than back in 2008 when I fought for the Asian community, I never felt more appreciated for what I do and the hard work I put in,” said Alvarez.
“The Underground King” recently became one of the soaring Asian promotion’s hottest properties after his groundbreaking shift East which made headlines late last year. News of Alvarez signing was followed by ONE Championship’s acquisitions of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who also makes his promotional debut at ONE: A NEW ERA.
“I’d love to give the Japanese fans what they want – I owe a lot to them,” he added.
The 35-year-old Alvarez wants to ensure his homecoming of sorts is a victorious one against the hard-hitting Nastyukhin. He is wrapping up what looks to be an intense training camp. With less than three weeks to go to the event, Alvarez is ready.
Nastyukhin, however, is never one to back down from a war. The 29-year-old swings as hard as anyone in ONE’s talent-rich lightweight division and a string of victims in his wake exist as proof.
Fortunately for martial arts fans, Alvarez shares those exact qualities. Alvarez has built his decorated legacy on a willingness to trade shots, constant pressure, and to deliver show-stopping knockouts.
The pieces of the puzzle add up to what promises to be a show-stealing bout at the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena in what will be ONE’s inaugural event in Japan.
You can expect plenty of fireworks when the Alvarez and Nastyukhin square off on March 31, in a showdown that has the potential to wind up as Bout of the Night.