Eddie Alvarez isn’t sure when or where he’ll return to the ONE Championship cage, but he knows what he wants: a title shot.
Alvarez, the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion, would love nothing more than to add a third major championship to his resume, but the indication from the promotion, according to Alvarez, is that might have to wait for his shot once he’s back in action.
“They said one or two fights,” Alvarez recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “I don’t even know what that means.”
Moreover, Alvarez (30-7) doesn’t necessarily understand why he’d be in a position to have to prove himself given what he’s accomplished throughout his decorated career.
“I’ll do what it takes. I want world championships, and I want titles. I’ve always been patient. But I don’t know,” Alvarez said. “I want bigger names and bigger fights. If I haven’t proven it in the past 17 years that I deserve big names and be on that massive stage and fight for world titles, you’re just not watching the sport. If I can get in front of the champion, that’d be great. If not, I’ll fight the No. 1 contender and then get there. It is what it is.”
Alvarez, 36, signed with ONE in October 2018 after a four-year UFC run. His first order of business was the promotion’s lightweight grand prix at 170 pounds, looking to add more gold to his collection, but he was immediately bounced from the tournament after a first-round TKO loss to Timofey Nastyukhin. Alvarez received a second chance, though, when he was named a replacement and fought Eduard Folayang in the semifinals, submitting the former two-time ONE titleholder in the first round.
This meant Alvarez would get his shot at the tournament final against Saygid Arslaniev, if only he didn’t have to withdraw because of injury. ONE lightweight champion Christian Lee took his place and won by unanimous decision to claim the tournament title.
Alvarez’s bout with Arslaniev had been rebooked for June 26 but was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While ONE Championship has gotten back up and running events again, Alvarez has remained sidelined because of travel restrictions.
That could change soon – and when it does, Alvarez would prefer he gets a shot at Lee, the 21-year-old champion.
“He’s good, and he’s still growing. He’s young. He’s hungry. To be able to put myself against the champion of the promotion, I’m excited about it,” Alvarez said. “I show up in big-time situations when there’s belts on the line and when everything’s on the line. …
“No disrespect to the champion, but I think as many fights as he has, I’ve probably fought for more world title fights than he has actual fights. I don’t feel like I need to prove my mettle to someone like that. He’s talented. He’s a hell of a great fighter. But when it comes to resume and fighting world champions, I’ve fought them one after the other.”