An explosive lightweight showdown will hit North American prime-time television on Wednesday, 7 April, as Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez takes on Iuri Lapicus in the “ONE on TNT I” co-main event.
Alvarez is a mixed martial arts icon who held the Lightweight World Title in the United States’ two biggest organizations, and he is motivated to hit the trifecta in ONE Championship.
But standing in his way is Lapicus, a rising star who finished his first 14 opponents, earned a ONE World Title shot, and now holds the #2 contender spot in ONE’s lightweight rankings.
Each man has a lot to gain from this fight, as a victory could put them within reach of a ONE Lightweight World Title opportunity. And with 28 first-round stoppage wins between Alvarez and Lapicus, fans shouldn’t blink during their contest.
Of course, ONE Championship’s superstar athletes are just as excited to witness this showdown. Below, they share their predictions for Wednesday’s co-main event at “ONE on TNT I.”
“It’s a good fight for both guys. Both of them come to fight, and they are never boring. I respect that. It should be entertaining for the fans. They both have solid all-around skills. Eddie is a proven champion, but Iuri’s coming into this very confident. The one who wants it more is going to win. It’s going to come down to willpower.
“Iuri is younger, and he has that youthful energy on his side. Eddie has that veteran experience. He’s been through a lot and has seen it all. It’s hard to calculate who will take this one. As a fan, it will be fun to watch.”
“You should watch out for Alvarez’s great striking ability and how he takes space. Alvarez fights beautifully. His form is beautiful. I want you to see his cool sides like that. Alvarez [will win]. He should win – because I want to fight against him.”
“Eddie has dealt with a lot of adversity in his career and in his time with ONE. I feel Iuri will not be the man to deny him. Eddie is a survivor and is very good at finding a way to get his arm raised.”
“Eddie has seen it all and done it all around the world. Iuri is a firecracker and has something to prove, and anyone who has Eddie on their resume has built quite a good resume, so that serves as motivation. But I see Eddie shining here, getting back to his ‘Underground King’ routes, and taking this into the deep waters for the victory by TKO or decision.”
“I am very certain that Alvarez has good technical skills, but this fight will depend on his ability to utilize his skills and avoid any unnecessary attacks in the Circle.
“I want Alvarez to win because I have been a huge fan of his. But realistically, he’s fighting against a young, bright talent. Since Iuri [lost the World Title fight to Christian Lee], he will want to create his comeback by beating a great name in the sport.”
“It could be over in a moment, so keep your eyes wide open. I think Lapicus will win by KO.”
“Iuri is still young and spirited, which becomes his advantage. He also gains from a height and reach [advantage], while Eddie is ahead by experience and his bluff.
“I think that Eddie has seen everything, he’s fought almost everyone. He is the former champion of some big martial arts organizations. I want to see Eddie earn his title with ONE and add to his overall record.
“This is a great fight, and a difficult one because both athletes strike hard. If you ask me how this would have gone a couple of months ago, I would have said a victory for Iuri. But after his loss against Christian Lee, I might have to switch to Eddie Alvarez in this one. Surely, their bout will be very interesting.”
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“Iuri has his base in judo. I lost to him in the ground game [when we fought], but his striking did not affect me. After that, I think he improved his striking by training with the number one kickboxer in the world, Giorgio Petrosyan.
“I followed Eddie since before I came to ONE Championship. He is one of the craziest strikers, but now that he is getting older, he has been less crazy, but he has more experience. He is waiting and taking more than pushing forward [in a fight]. He is slower.
“Anyway, his ground game is still top-level, as always. He has a strong BJJ base, as we have seen in his fight with Folayang. It took only a few seconds, but he has a superb IQ and used his techniques to turn the game around. Also, the fight with Shinya Aoki [in April 2012] was one of the best fights I had seen him in.
“If I have to predict the fight between Iuri and Eddie, I think Eddie will win because they both have ground games in a lot of different levels. If Iuri can win this fight, he must [catch Eddie by surprise] in the striking.”
“This is an action-packed match that I think most fans are waiting for. Eddie has vastly more experience, but Iuri has had a very interesting career so far. It’s a tough one to predict, but I will go for Iuri on this one – just based on instinct.”
“It will be a clearly understandable fight with a lot of punching and throwing.
“I think Alvarez hasn’t been able to show his true strength yet because he [spent time] on the back foot even in the match he won [against Eduard Folayang]. So, I think it will be interesting to see if he can show that strength or not.”
“I think if Alvarez wants to win, he has to utilize his fighting experience and get ahead through points. Alvarez has to find a way to neutralize Lapicus’ power. He must not be lured into a striking exchange, as it would be dangerous due to Lapicus’ power and skills.
“If one is taken into his opponent’s game, whoever he is will lose. If Alvarez is drawn into a striking exchange, Lapicus will beat him. On the contrary, if Lapicus takes too long in trying to create that perfect KO, he will definitely lose by points.”
“This is going to be exciting because both are well-rounded fighters. Don’t doubt Eddie Alvarez, but Iuri Lapicus should also not be taken for granted. I was actually surprised to see his loss when he was ransacked by Christian Lee.
“I feel that this is going to be Lapicus’ fight. I think Eddie is done, as also his preparation is not too good. Also, I do feel that Lapicus will win because he has a better reach. I think it’s going to be in round two. Be it submission or KO, it’s round two.”
“When I saw [Timofey] Natsyukhin hitting on Alvarez hard, I felt that he was done. It’s not about the age, but also the strategy, as he had been out of the Circle for a long time – and had to face a tank once he was in.
“I do think that Lapicus will also win against Alvarez. Although he didn’t win the title bout [with Lee], I believe he has the skills to beat Alvarez. But Alvarez can get the upset if he is able to utilize his preparation and fight experience.”
“If this goes to the ground, I think Iuri will win. Two rounds. That’s it.
“Iuri is younger than Eddie by 12 years, but Eddie has more experience. I think Iuri has more of an advantage, especially with the striking game because he trains with Petrosyan. He has a good chance to end the fight by knockout, but if the fight goes till the end, it will be very close.”