Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez was determined to end 2019 in style.
The American completed one of the best comeback performances of the year when he submitted Eduard “Landslide” Folayang at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in August to earn a spot in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final.
Unfortunately, Alvarez was forced to withdraw from the tournament finale due to injury and had no choice but to spend the rest of the year recovering at home.
After recovering from his injury, “The Underground King” was training for his return against his original ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final opponent Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a brief halt to those plans.
So, for the time being, the Philadephia native is preparing himself mentally and physically to make an impact when the promotion’s calendar of events resumes in 2020.
“For me, luckily, I have a lot of stuff at home. We got the pool opened up right away, the minute we heard we were being shut down,” Alvarez explains. “That allowed me to swim a little bit and go in the hot tub after training sessions. I’m just training at my house, in my gym, and being with my kids. It’s a little reset button.”
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To stay ready for battles against the top lightweights on the global stage, Alvarez has largely used his time away to get back to the basics.
“When I’m on my own like this, I really like going back to fundamentals — working on good fundamental fighting: balance, positioning, and things like that,” he says.
“The ability to move around for 25 minutes in a good, solid, fundamental position and not get tired and not get bored, and just work the fundamentals of fighting is a lot more difficult than what people give it credit for. I think every fighter should use this as a kind of restructuring.”
When it does come time to compete again, Alvarez also intends to return to the style that helped him become one of the world’s greatest mixed martial artists.
“I’ve really been trying to become the move-forward, reckless fighter that got me all the titles that I have today,” he says.
“The idea of thinking too much and hesitating, that’s become something more than I want it to, and I want to get back to moving forward and having a reckless style.
“[I want to get back to] going forward and doing damage. That’s kind of where I’m resetting where my mind is at… I just want to fight the way I want to fight, and I want to do what I want to do regardless of the risks that are involved.”
Alvarez is not exactly sure who he will be facing the next time he enters the Circle, but he is eyeing the top end of the talent pool.
The American has been a World Champion in every major organization he has joined, and he wants to maintain that streak in The Home Of Martial Arts. With that in mind, he is willing to battle any lightweight who will bring him a step closer to the gold.
“My idea is always that I’m the champion. Everywhere I’ve went, I beat the champion. Anybody who considers themself the best guy in ONE Championship, I want to fight,” he says.
“I would fight [ONE Lightweight World Champion] Christian Lee right now. I’d fight whoever has that belt around their waist. That’s who I have my eye on. If I have to fight anybody who considers themselves contenders or anybody in between, I’ll take them out in order to get there.”
Alvarez is eagerly anticipating his return to competition, but the four-time Lightweight World Champion is also looking at the current situation with the glass half full.
For “The Underground King,” it’s a break from his usual busy life and a chance to spend more time with his family.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” he offers.
“I keep hearing people say, ‘I want to get back to my normal life,’ and a big part of me feels that this is our normal life. Going back to all the busyness and all the working seems to be not a normal life. That’s the main thing I think we have to keep a good perspective on through the wake of all this.”