Two UFC legends and former champions, Eddie ‘The Underground King’ Alvarez and Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson made their ONE Championship debuts at the weekend. Though both started as favourites to win their bouts, there were mixed results for them.
Eddie Alvarez was competing the quarter finals of the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix against Russian Timofey Nastyukhin. This was expected to be the more difficult task for the two former UFC fighters. Those expectations bore out as Nastyukhin knocked Alvarez out towards the end of the very first round.
Nastyukhin started the fight aggressively and managed to cause damage to the eye of Alvarez. He kept the pressure up and eventually let loose a barrage of punches which The Underground King could not deal with. The referee stepped in and Alvarez’s ambition to win the ONE Lightweight World championship took a heavy blow.
ONE Championship confirmed that Alvarez went to a nearby hospital as a precaution and would not take part in any post-fight interviews. Nastyukhin, a powerful puncher, was understandably happy with his victory.
“I feel very good. You know it is my style,” he said after the fight. “I like to finish in the first round by knockout and I did it. I didn’t think too much, I saw he got hurt, I saw the opportunity and I took it.”
Demetrious Johnson also made his ONE debut on Sunday, but he made light work of his up-and-comer opponent, Yuya Wakamatsu. Mighty Mouse, who successfully defended the Flyweight Championship 11 times in the UFC, started his journey to the ONE title with a second-round guillotine choke win.
Wakamatsu put up a spirited display against the finest flyweight MMA has ever seen, and even caused damage to the face of Johnson. In the end the Mighty Mouse’s pressure was too much as he took the young Japanese fighter to ground and made use of ONE Championship’s rule to allow grounded knees to the head. He finished Wakamatsu with an unconventional guillotine choke.
“I had a hard time trying to cross the distance carefully and I got caught. When you battle through adversity in life, just like in the cage, you gotta push right through it,” Johnson said.
“He went in for the shot, I put my hips in and he tapped. He woke up and went, ‘What happened, what happened?’ You know I train with the best and that’s the result right there.”