Eddie Alvarez Has Nothing But Good Things To Say About Opponent ‘Dagi’
Back in March, Eddie Alvarez made his ONE Championship debut at ONE: A New Era, against Timofey Nastyukhin in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix. To the surprise of many, it was Nastyukhin who had his hand raised, stopping Alvarez in the first round, and in doing so, moved through to the Grand Prix semifinals.
And for a moment, it looked like Alvarez was going to go 0-2 in his new promotion, when he found himself in real trouble earlier this month, against Team Lakay’s Eduard Folayang at ONE: Dawns Of Heroes, in Manila. However, the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion managed to survive and ended up scoring a rear naked choke submission.
Speaking on The Ariel Helwani Show, Alvarez revealed that he almost didn’t make the walk to the ring that night, due to a nasty ankle sprain ten days before the bout.
“We were ten days before the fight, probably, I think, two days before I was about to leave for the Philippines, I messed my ankle pretty bad in grappling practice. And it got a little iffy. We were considering just calling up and saying ‘I don’t know if we can do this’.
“So I kept a wrestling shoe on and kept my foot taped all the way up until the fight. So until the fight happened, the back in the locker room was the first time I actually moved around with it bare foot.
“It was all a little sketchy but we were just too close to the fight, too close to pull out. We kept a strong believe in ourselves that we’d figure it out when we get in there.”
Having faced adversity in both his ONE bouts, Alvarez fully appreciates the level of the athletes in the GP. Even if many of those athletes aren’t necessarily known names in the West.
“I think this tournament has very, very good fighters in it. Whether they’re unknown or not. The best fighters in the world are virtually unknown. They’re in the jungles of Brazil, they’re in the foothills of Dagestan, they’re all over the world. So there’s always a misconception between the most popular guys and the best fighters in the world. And neither one of them have anything to do with each other.”
The matchup against the former ONE lightweight champion Folayang, was not only a chance for Alvarez to get back to winning ways, but due of injuries, a few weeks before it went down in Manila, it was announced that the winner would earn the right to face Saygid Guseyn ‘Dagi’ Arslanaliev in the final of the ONE Lightweight GP.
‘Dagi’ has made it to the final of the ONE Lightweight GP, after scoring scary first round knockouts of EV Ting and Amir Khan. The 24 year old also has a first round KO of Nastyukhin and has a professional record of 8-1. His only loss was from a disqualification in January of 2017, as a result of an illegal soccer kick, that came just months after they were banned by ONE Championship.
Asked for his thoughts on his opponent, Alvarez had nothing but good things to say about ‘Dagi’.
“Dangerous. Incredible opponent. You guys are going to want to watch this. Incredible opponent. Honestly, I have nothing bad to say about him.
“He came from a boarding school where they taught fighting from a young age. He has a wushu background, also strong grappling background. Very dangerous opponent.
“You don’t even get to see much tape on him because he ends a lot of fights in the first round.
“I love, and I’ve done my best against opponents who are dangerous like this. Where I feel, I genuinely feel afraid a little bit. I do really well like that. When my back’s against the wall and I feel a bit afraid, something kicks in, where I compete at a level I don’t even know I’m capable of. So I’m looking forward to feeling that fear and feeling those emotions and going out and fighting.”
Alvarez and ‘Dagi’ will face each other in the final of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix at ONE’s historic 100th show, ONE: Century. Which goes down on October 13th, at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, in Tokyo.