Hardcore mixed martial arts followers were handed with big news earlier as Asian promotion ONE Championship revealed that they’ve signed former UFC champion Eddie Alvarez. While this signifies a new chapter in his career, this also solidifies the organisation as an emerging player in the MMA business. We take a look at just how this move will affect both parties involved in the transaction.
ONE Championship founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong used various social media platforms to introduce their newest superstar in the organisation, with a tweet which included Alvarez’s statement on the move and his initial plans heading into ONE Championship.
Please join me in welcoming Eddie Alvarez to @ONEChampionship! I am super excited for our fans to witness Eddie’s high octane, explosive dynamite KO style. Stay tuned for more big news! @Ealvarezfight pic.twitter.com/bM3K0COlie
— Chatri Sityodtong (@YODCHATRI) October 16, 2018
Alvarez was formerly employed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and his contract with the organisation expired in July following his loss to Dustin Poirier. This officially ended Alvarez’s tenure with the company which started in 2014 with the highlight of it him winning the Lightweight Championship back in 2016.
THE UNDERGROUND KING LOOKS FOR A NEW KINGDOM
His arrival comes with so many pros for the native of Philadelphia, as Alvarez is looking to be the first man to hold world titles in all major MMA organisations.
He began his professional career in 2003, and with a 15-2 record, he fought in his first match under Bellator Fighting Championships. In the inaugural lightweight tournament, Alvarez submitted all three opponents in a span of three months to become the company’s first Lightweight Champion.
Alvarez would defend the title once, in a unanimous decision win over Pat Curran, before losing it to Michael Chandler in Bellator 58.
However, he would avenge his loss two years later and also regain the title before moving on to sign with the UFC.
He beat Rafael Dos Anjos in UFC Fight Night in 2016 to win the Lightweight Championship in the UFC but failed to defend it as he lost to Conor McGregor four months later in a superfight.
Now as he plies his trade with ONE Championship, there should be no shortage of new challengers for “The Underground King.”
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) October 16, 2018
Assuming he will fight in the company’s 155 division, the first challenge that comes to mind is a possible trilogy against one of the company’s big signings Shinya Aoki.
The two have had excellent matches before, with the Japanese judoka beating out Alvarez back in 2008. Alvarez got his revenge in Bellator 66 when he got a TKO victory in 2012.
At the moment, Aoki posts an impressive 42-8 record and has won his last three fights with the organisation. He is also considered as the number one contender for the currently-vacant title. This can definitely be one of the biggest matches for ONE Championship to date as both fighters are well-known stars outside Asia, and it is easily the most marketable fight for Alvarez at the moment.
How sweet is it that we finally get Alvarez-Aoki 3 ?
— José Youngs (@JoseYoungs) October 16, 2018
Furthermore, if Aoki holds the belt by the time he and Alvarez are scheduled to fight, then it would be a very interesting way for a trilogy to end – with a title up for grabs.
At 34 years old, Alvarez may still be getting some of the best fights in his storied career.
ONE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTINUES TO RISE
The Singapore-based company continues to dream big and their hard work continues to show signs that things are paying off.
Launched in 2011, the company has grown significantly as they continue to expand their reach across the globe.
Starting off with a roster predominantly as proving ground for Asian talent, ONE Championship strive to give audience a taste of having renowned fighters in their cage. In 2012 they acquired the services of Aoki and Bibiano Fernandes, beating out deals by the UFC which showed ONE Championship’s drive.
Later in the year, they would have another crucial signing as they acquired unbeaten fighter Ben Askren who had made a name for himself as a NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Champion, Bellator Welterweight Champion and US Olympian. Askren would go on to be the company’s welterweight king.
In 2015, UFC veteran Brandon Vera was also signed to the company, eventually winning a tournament to become their heavyweight champion.
ONE Championship And Nielsen Report Dramatic Increase In TV Viewership https://t.co/8zEGCKBKGE
— Brandon Vera (@Verafied) September 4, 2018
Naturally, their business continued to grow and as they reported in 2017, data showed they reached the 4-billion mark for social media impressions which was a significant growth from 352 million in 2014.
Outside of social media, their live events have also garnered significant increase in views, with a jump to around 11 million in their core market in 2018 as compared to only one million in 2015.
According to their reports, ONE: Kingdom of Heroes raked in a spectacular 25 million views in data collected from Nielsen, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. They even broke a record in Thailand with 58.5% TV ratings share in the country.
Per @ONEChampionship – According to data from Nielsen, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES posted excellent viewership numbers, drawing over 25 million viewers.
— MMASucka (@MMASucka) October 12, 2018
In essence, the demand for ONE Championship continues to rise and in order to keep rising, the ONE Championship brass need to bring in world class athletes – which what Alvarez brings to the table.
With him in tow, there are so many more compelling fights to make and given his success in other big organisations like UFC and Bellator, Alvarez automatically brings in a fresh new market that ONE Championship may not have had before.
Furthermore, it drastically improves the level of competition within the promotion and it will definitely force fighters to improve as world-class talents from the West are looking to take over the East.
Expect numbers to keep improving especially if Alvarez brings in his trademark fighting style.
A NEW ERA FOR ONE
In this case, the UFC’s loss is ONE’s gain and with the latter continually showing they are able to play their cards right, the sky is the limit for Chatri Sityodtong and the rest of the team.
Alvarez’s arrival also ultimately shows that there are a lot of people seeing what ONE brings to the table and that it is not just an organisation that wants to put out fights, but a promotion out to put on the best shows and feature the best fighters in the world.
Slowly and steadily putting a firm hold on the market outside Asia, ONE shows no signs of nearing the end, not at all. In fact, it seems like things are just about to pick up and get even better.