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Kiwi fighter in line to face MMA great

Newshub logoNewshub 8/11/2018 Stephen Foote
Alvarez and Ting could come head to head. © Getty Alvarez and Ting could come head to head.

Marquee signing Eddie Alvarez never expected to stroll into an immediate title shot at his new home with ONE Championship, and the introduction of a lightweight Grand Prix will ensure exactly that.

The former Bellator and UFC champion will be forced to work his way to the top of the division via an eight-man tournament against the cream of the weight class, which will include New Zealand's Ev Ting.

The new tournament - which is scheduled to start in January - will result in the crowning of a Grand Prix champion, who'll then advance to fight the belt holder. Precisely who that is will be determined by the bout between Eduard Folayang and Amir Khan in Manila later this month.

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There will also be a Grand Prix held for the flyweight division in which ONE's second blockbuster signing of the month - Demetrious Johnson - will make his debut with the powerhouse Asian promotion.

Fresh off the plane and straight into Wednesday's press conference for the ONE event in Singapore, the news was music to Alvarez's ears.

"My adrenaline spiked," he told Newshub.

"I don't believe you can call yourself a champion if you right away get a shot at the belt. I think everybody has a right to earn their spot and I'm here to earn my spot.

"I want to fight the best guys in the division and I think were going to do that with the Grand Prix.

"I'm looking forward to fighting the top talent and earning that world title."

The 'Underground King' is well versed in the format. He grew up competing in wrestling tournaments, made the final of the Dream Grand Prix in 2008 (before being forced out with an eye injury), and won the Bellator edition three years later.

"I've never lost a tournament fighting in my career. I am a tournament fighter. I do really well in them and I'm looking forward to it."

The most likely scenario involves the 34-year-old fighting in a decisive third bout against Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in ONE's first foray into the country in March.

"I think that trilogy will happen. He's always been one of the top guys here in Asia and Im looking forward to completing that at some point.

"I don't have a preference and I honestly don't know a lot of the guys. This is all very new to me, it all just happened.

"So, whoever you fans and media consider the most dangerous opponents - that's who I'm here for. That's what I want."

The Auckland-based Ting is equally enthusiastic at the concept, especially the prospect of squaring off with an MMA great.

"The Grand Prix is the perfect solution to find out the best out of the stacked divisions," he told Newshub. 

"Eddie Alvarez would be a great test for me, I am still fit, strong and healthy since my last camp and I'm confident to test my skills against his."

A ONE Championship title will complete another trilogy for Alvarez, rounding out an historic trio of lightweight belts alongside those he won at Bellator and the UFC.

It's a feat that Alvarez believes will cement him in the pantheon of MMA.

"You will not be able to talk about martial arts or MMA without talking about me in the history books. I've won in every single major organisation - a major belt in each one.

"I've made a space in my office for this belt and I'm here in Asia to get this belt - that's my main purpose and my main belt."

Having first forged his reputation in Japan's Dream promotion, Alvarez looked at ease as he got his first taste of the ONE experience in a return to the continent that holds plenty of great memories for the Philadelphian.

"I've never felt more appreciated in my life that back in 2008 when I fought for the Asian community, I never felt more appreciated for what I do and the hard work I put in."

While his friends and family back in the US are upset they wouldn't be able to watch him in action live, he believes it's only a matter of time before they bring a live event across the Pacific.

CEO and Chairman Chartri Sityodtong said a TV deal with an American network will be announced by the end of the year before going live in January.

"I don't think it's long before ONE enters the USA and I just feel really good about coming here, I feel really good about joining the ONE family."

Newshub.

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