With the MMA world still reacting to the historic first ‘trade’ between the UFC and ONE Championships, it’s easy to forget the big free agent ONE picked up last week: Eddie Alvarez, “The Underground King.” Eddie will be leaving behind the stacked UFC lightweight division to try and win yet another belt with ONE, and the promotion just shared a list of five potential opponents for the American to face.
Now to be clear: this isn’t a shortlist from the ONE matchmakers, but considering the article appears on the ONE site itself, it does give you an idea of the lay of the land as Alvarez enters the Asian fight company.
At the top of the list are Eduard Folayang and Amir Khan (no, not the boxer Amir Khan). These two are set to fight for the vacant ONE lightweight title on November 23rd at Conquest of Champions. The Filipino Folayang is a stand up wonder and one of the few ONE challengers that could fight off Alvarez’s wrestling (should Eddie choose to use it).
Will Eduard Folayang be crowned king of the lightweights on 23 November?
Will Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang be crowned king of the lightweights on 23 November? Manila | 23 November | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onechampions18Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, October 14, 2018
Turkey’s Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev and Russian Timofey Nastyukhin are also included as intruiging possibilities for Alvarez. Nastyukhin employs a similar devil may care attitude to fighting that would undoubtedly produce fireworks if matched against Alvarez. And while Arslanaliev is relatively green in comparison, he does hold a win over Nastyukhin and the ground chops to keep Alvarez on his toes.
The last name on the list is one of the more familiar to fight fans: Shinya Aoki. Aoki and Alvarez have extensive history that goes back a decade to K-1 Dynamite in 2008, where the Japanese submission specialist caught Alvarez with a heel hook just a minute and a half into their fight. Alvarez got revenge in 2012, stuffing Aoki’s takedown and knocking him senseless under the Bellator banner. Could a rubber match be forthcoming in ONE?
While it’s sad to see Alvarez leave the UFC’s stable of 155 pound fighters, he certainly has options as ONE prepares to promote him as the biggest signing in the company’s seven year history.