On Sunday, 13 October the four-time mixed martial arts lightweight World Champion will face Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.
The Turkish wrecking machine is one of the most dangerous finishers on the global stage, and the American hero does not deny that he will be a tough nut to crack if he wants to win the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final.
However, he would not want the challenge in front of him to be any easier.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t see a lot of weaknesses, and I see a big challenge ahead of me,” Alvarez says.
“It gets me excited. It gets me up early in the morning and keeps me up late at night.”
One of the difficulties that “The Underground King” admits he has had during his preparation for Arslanaliev is the lack of footage there is to study.
Though the 24-year-old has nine professional bouts on his record, all but one has finished in the first round. Furthermore, his bouts mostly consist of non-stop offense until he finishes.
However, Alvarez is counting on his experience being a critical factor in this contest, so that when he pushes back at his rival, he will have the upper hand.
”There’s not much to study to see his tendencies or weaknesses or whatever, but I think I’ve fought higher-level opponents consistently over time, and I’ve been in and out of World Championship fights where I understand how to lose and how to deal with being dominated,” he explains.
”I was a fighter who was 10-0 at one point, and I never had experience of being dominated by another guy. So when another fight beat me, I didn’t know how to deal with it.
“I think he’s inexperienced that way where I don’t know how he’s going to deal with the back-and-forth in a fight because he’s been so dominant.”
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While it is true that Arslanaliev’s World Grand Prix bouts so far have been one-way traffic – a 25-second KO of Ev Ting and a destruction of Amir Khan in fewer than three minutes – Alvarez has pinpointed one of his matches on the global stage to pick apart.
Last March, the Istanbul resident was taken into the third round for the only time in his career by Tetsuya “MMA Fantasista” Yamada. Although he defeated the Japanese veteran, his upcoming opponent believes he revealed some vulnerability.
“He had one three-round fight, and it didn’t look good on his part. He didn’t deal with it well. He lost the whole second round, and the third round was very questionable,” Alvarez explains.
“That’s the one fight that I saw that was eye-opening. He was losing rounds and losing minutes of the fight. I got to see that side of him and how he dealt with that.”
Of course, “Dagi” still put Yamada away with a third-round armbar, so the vulnerability he showed was only fleeting, and Alvarez is prepared to build an entire game plan on what he saw there.
“Those are some questions answered, but really, it’s going to come down to the night of the fight. It’s going to come down to who’s more focused, who’s more ready, and who wants it more,” he adds.
“I’ll figure out a way to win. I don’t always fancy myself the better fighter, but I always find a way to win. When guys are really good, I fight up to their level. I’m excited for that opportunity.”
Victory would give him a new gold belt to wrap around his waist, as well as a ticket to face Christian “The Warrior” Lee for the ONE Lightweight World Title in the not-too-distant future.
That has been “The Underground King’s” focus since day one in the world’s largest martial arts organization, so he can become the first man to win World Titles in three major martial arts organizations.
That is why he is desperate to get his hand raised in Tokyo.
“I just need that belt around my waist. It’s history for the sport of mixed martial arts. No one has done it and I don’t know if anybody else will do it for a long, long time.
“It’s going to take years in this sport and a lot of fights to be able to move from every major promotion and be able to call yourself the World Champion. It’s something for me that’s important.
“For me as a fighter, and knowing what it takes to be a fighter and be consistent over a long period of time, it’s something that I will pride myself on forever.”
Read more: Why Defeat Will Never Stop Eddie Alvarez
Tokyo | 13 October | ONE: CENTURY | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: https://onechampionship.zaiko.io/e/onecentury
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.