PETALING JAYA, Oct 31 — ONE Championship’s new signing Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez said he’s heard great things about Kuala Lumpur and hopes this new deal will see him fulfill his dream to travel to Malaysia.
The 29-6 mixed martial artist, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA lightweight champion has his eyes set on an early 2019 debut.
“I’ve never been to Malaysia or Thailand for example and it’s always been a small dream of mine to see these parts of the world. I want to fight where the people want me to fight. I want to go where the fans are the loudest.
“It’s important for me to see these places and I’m thankful for Chatri Sityodtong and ONE Championship for allowing me to fulfill this dream,” the 34-year-old said.
Malaysian MMA fans were delighted by ONE’s capture of Alvarez, and on Sunday, the martial arts organisation announced the biggest trade deal in combat sports history when they acquired the services of Demetrious Johnson from UFC in exchange for ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren.
“Hearing how excited you guys (Malaysian fans) are, I’m just as excited too. I’d like to meet all of you.
“I’m a recognisable name in Malaysia and it is important for me to come over there,” he said.
Alvarez cited the reason why he inked with the organisation was that he wanted to complete his collection of lightweight world titles before he calls it a day.
“I don’t want my friends to come up to me after I retire and say ‘Bro, you’ve won the UFC and Bellator title, what about ONE Championship’s world title?’.
“I’m ready to fight the best in the division and make my way to the title. I want to earn my spot to be a contender and then the champion.”
The move also opens doors to a potential third fight against Japan’s Shinya Aoki.
In 2008, Aoki defeated him for the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts lightweight title via way of submission in round one but four years later he got his revenge as he knocked out his Japanese counterpart inside 2:14 of round one.
Alvarez’s MMA career stretches to 15 years with battles against some of the best in the business, Rafael dos Anjos, Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis, Michael Chandler, Gilbert Melendez, Shinya Aoki, Patricky Freire, Roger Huerta.