After losing his debut to Timofey Nastyukhin in ONE Championship, Eddie Alvarez has come out to say that he is confident to lift the ONE Lightweiht World title.
The American mixed martial artist was widely expected to blow away his Russian opponent but the table turned the other way as the the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion was humiliated by his unheralded opponent in the closing stages of the first round.
Alvarez, 35, was with all optimism after arriving in Singapore-based division, looking to add a new belt to his crowded trophy case. However, despite the setback he believes the confidence is high for him to achieve the goal he set out for coming to Singapore.
Like before, Alvarez lost his UFC debut, and was on the brink of losing his Bellator debut. But, he went on to clinch two gold medals in both divisions.
“Look, I got the first one out of the way,” Alvarez said on the latest stacked episode of BJPenn.com Radio. “I lost, no problem. I did the same thing in the UFC [against Donald Cerrone] and I honestly almost did the same thing in my debut in Bellator. I got dropped terribly. My debut in Bellator against an Irish kid [Greg Loughran] that no one knew. I got caught pretty clean. I bounced back and got the win, but I’m not a big fan of my debuts, put it that way. So I got it out of the way, got it past me, and now I can go full on, go undefeated straight to the belt
“I go out there and I’ve given my all every time, but I think at every once in a while it’s good to take a loss and put the fire back in your belly, and I think it’s a good time to have that,” he added later. “Sometimes you need that fire to burn long enough to get to that World Title.”
Alvarez knows the ferocity of his opponent in the ONE Lightweight Championship, as he will face two-time champ Eduard Folayang. Folayang is one of ONE Championship’s best established stars. The fiht will take place at ONE: Dawn of Heroes in Manilla, Philippines on August 2.
The two are familiar foes, although from distance. Folayang defeated Shinya Aoki at ONE: A New Era, a competition in which Alvarez also participated. However, the erstwhile UFC and Bellator champ believes there is a lot of strength, tactic and style within his Filipino opponent.
“He’s incredibly tough, incredibly durable,” Alvarez said of Folayang. “I understand the power of Wushu, because [some of] the guys I train with, Zabit [Magomedsharipov] and a lot of the Russians that come over to spar with us in [New] Jersey, they’re all from a Wushu background.
“So the art is for real, it applies very well to MMA. And I’m looking forward to the toughest Eduard Folayang.”
Folayang and his Team Lakay will be home with his compatriots and native fans cheering him, excited Alvarez is undaunted as he hopes to get the better part of his opponent. For him, he needs to avoid any chance of a blunder.
“It’s in his hometown,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to a tough opponent and I’m viewing the fight as one that I absolutely have to finish. I am not coming in for a decision. I expect to lose if it goes to decision. So I have every intention to finish.”
“I’m excited,” he said. “This match-up in particular, I feel like this guy’s such a hard-nosed, tough fighter. This could be a Fight of the Year. Just my attitude and my mentality going into the fight, I like to feel that my back’s against the wall. I do really well there. I don’t like to feel respected. I like when people think a certain way, whether it’s negatively or whatever, and then I get an opportunity to shock them all.
“This is going to be the ultimate one, the Thrilla in Manila. Going to the Philippines, fighting the Filipino king in Eduard Folayang and taking another head, taking another skull.
“I never want an easy fight,” he concluded. “My only desire is for the ONE Championship title. And this guy’s held it not once, but twice already.”