3 big matchups for the return of Eddie Alvarez

Eddie Alvarez [Photo Credit: ONE Championship]
Eddie Alvarez [Photo Credit: ONE Championship]
Craig Pekios

‘The Underground King’ Eddie Alvarez could be preparing for a return to ONE Championship if his recent Instagram posts are to go by.

The last time we saw the lightweight icon in the circle was April 2021 at ONE on TNT IV. It now looks as though we are closer than ever to seeing Alvarez return as the promotion gears up for its big debut on Amazon Prime Video on August 26 with ONE 161.

Seen training out of Kill Cliff MMA in South Florida with fellow ONE stars Aung La N Sang and Tial Thang, Alvarez looks primed to return better than ever and appears intent on gunning for third-belt glory in ONE.

With ‘The Underground King’ rumored to be contemplating a potential drop to featherweight in the near future, we take a look at three fighters who could welcome Alvarez back to the circle in a big way.

#3. Garry Tonon

Former ONE featherweight world title challenger Garry Tonon could be an intriguing matchup for the returning Alvarez.

With a 6-1 record in the circle, Tonon is more than capable of holding his own against some of the promotion’s fiercest strikers, but his combat sports success has come from his elite-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

With over 70 career submission grappling wins to his record, Tonon and Alvarez would be a classic striker versus grappler showdown.

Another interesting angle is that both ‘The Lion Killer’ and Alvarez are American-born, creating a true USA versus USA storyline that could prove to be big for the promotion’s partnership with Amazon.

Starting in August, ONE Championship will have at least 12 live events on the platform at U.S. primetime. This gives fans in North America the opportunity to see the biggest global combat sports stars under the ONE banner.

A clash between ‘The Lion Killer’ and ‘The Underground King’ would have eyes from around the world tuning in, particularly in North America.


#2. Kim Jae Woong

Like Alvarez, Kim Jae Woong is coming off of a loss. And like Alvarez’s last opponent, Ok Rae Yoon, Kim is a South Korean striker and an opponent choice that could result in a firefight, something ‘The Underground King’ is more than willing to engage in.

‘The Fighting God’ has won three out of five inside the circle, with his most impressive win coming against former featherweight king Martin Nguyen at ONE: Revolution in September 2021. Last seen at the promotion’s 10th-anniversary event ONE X in March, Kim suffered a first-round knockout to Thanh Le’s next challenger, Tang Kai.

As the No. 2-ranked featherweight, a win against a big name like Alvarez could earn Kim a world title opportunity. On the flip side, a win for Eddie Alvarez would make a statement, putting him immediately into the top five of the rankings and setting the stage for a possible championship fight.


#1. Martin Nguyen

This is the biggest name on the list, hence his spot at No.1.

Martin Nguyen has a massive fan following in ONE Championship thanks to his high-octane style and killer instinct. With 11 wins in the circle, ‘The Situ-Asian’ has finished his opponents 10 times for an astonishing 91 percent finish rate. Of those 10 finishes, eight have come by way of knockouts, ensuring that a clash with ‘The Underground King’ would be nothing short of absolute fireworks.

Making history as the promotion’s first two-division world champion, Nguyen is eager to reclaim his featherweight gold after dropping it to reigning king Thanh Le at ONE: Inside the Matrix. Sitting in the No. 3 spot in the rankings, a win over Alvarez could propel Nguyen into pole position, while a win for Eddie Alvarez would show the world that ‘The Underground King’ is back and ready to make a run for that historic third world title.

‘The Situ-Asian’ has had a showdown with Eddie Alvarez on his mind for some time now. Speaking to ONE Championship, Nguyen said he is more than willing to welcome Eddie Alvarez to the featherweight division.

“Eddie Alvarez is [one of] the most experienced athletes in ONE Championship at the moment. In terms of MMA, I still feel like he’s got a few more fights underneath his belt, at least a minimum of three or four fights. He doesn’t really have anything to prove. He’s achieved it all. So you don’t count the old guy out until he’s completely out. I feel that I’m that person he should be fighting. I’m always ready to put my name and sign that contract. We’ll see what happens.”

While no official date or announcement has been made regarding Eddie Alvarez’s return, ‘The Underground King’ let his fans know on Twitter that he was “working on something” and followed that up by saying he “can’t wait to rumble for you all.”

That, plus video clips of his training, have all but confirm that Eddie Alvarez’s return will be sooner rather than later and ONE Championship fans are eager to welcome ‘The Underground King’ back into the circle.

Edited by Harvey Leonard


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