Eddie Alvarez relying on tournament experience ahead of ONE: ‘A New Era’
Eddie Alvarez has fought in his fair share of tournaments over the years.
His first taste of stardom on a global scale came during his participation in the Dream Lightweight Grand Prix back in 2008. He then took part in the inaugural Bellator MMA tournament where he was eventually crowned lightweight champion.
Through it all, Alvarez has learned more than a few lessons about what it takes to win those tournaments. But perhaps none are as important as the one he’s kept running through his head leading up to his ONE Championship debut on March 31.
“One guy at a time, if you don’t get past that one guy you don’t got to worry about anybody else,” Alvarez explained ahead of his next fight at ONE: ‘A New Era’.
“Just one guy at a time. I’ve got tunnel vision and that’s on Timofey Nastyukhin for right now.”
Eye on the future
Obviously, Alvarez is aware that getting past Nastyukhin sets him up for a semifinals showdown against fellow American Lowen Tynanes, who made quick work of Honorio Banario in his opening round fight in the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix.
While his focus remains solely on the Russian wrecking machine he’s about to face, Alvarez has definitely kept an eye on the rest of the competition that he will face throughout this tournament.
Unlike some fighters who claim to never research their opponents, the 35-year old former UFC champion fully admits he down right obsesses over the people he’s going to fight because he wants to know everything about them before stepping into the cage to do battle.
“I watch everybody’s fights. I’m not one of them guys ‘I don’t pay attention’. No, I pay attention to everyone,” Alvarez explained. “I want to see what everyone’s good at. I want to do more than everyone. I want to be better than everyone.
“I watched them all. I’ve got my eye on the future a little bit but for right now it’s about one guy.”
Plenty of research
When it comes to Nastyukhin in particular, Alvarez says he’s done plenty of research not to mention the hours upon hours of study that his head coach Mark Henry pours into his training camps as they get ready for the upcoming fight.
There’s nothing about Nastyukhin that Alvarez won’t know by the time they square off in Tokyo, Japan in less than two weeks time.
“I’ve done my homework. I know all his strengths. I know all his weaknesses. I know the camp he’s from. I know all their strengths and all their weaknesses,” Alvarez said.
“I know the coaches who are surrounding him. I’m familiar. I think fighters who say they don’t watch their opponents one, they’re either lying or two, they’re ignorant.”
“I think in order to defeat and put yourself in the best position to succeed, you’ve got to know your enemy and you’ve got to know yourself. The more familiar you are with both of those people, the more likely you are to succeed.”
The one thing that Alvarez won’t rely on too much going into this fight is just expecting his experience to carry him through.
On paper, Alvarez is likely a heavy favorite to storm through the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix and then march into a title fight against either Eduard Folayang or Shinya Aoki.
As much as he wants that exact scenario to play out, Alvarez refuses to approach this first round fight or any other in the tournament like he’s guaranteed to win just because of the long list of championships he’s already won.
“I’ve seen fighters get into that (mindset) thinking ‘oh I’ve faced it all, I know it all, it won’t be different’. Well, everyone is different, every situation is different and the truth is if you think that you’ve experienced it all and you’re just going to go in there and be successful because of your past experiences, you’re a fool,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez thinks that a willingness to learn has been a bit part of the longevity that has seen him win titles with two of the world’s biggest MMA organizations and potentially earn the opportunity to add a third,
“This is a sport where you have to continue to innovate, you have to continue to change, you’ve got to continue to get better or you’re just slowly dying,” he said.
“I have a resurgence because I changed my mind. I’ve been guilty of feeling that way before, thinking I’m a veteran and I’m going to beat these guys up on past accomplishments. What’s in the past should stay in the past and you’ve got to grow everyday in order to succeed.”
More than anything right now, Alvarez is just excited to get this Grand Prix started so he can continue that journey towards his ultimate goal — to become ONE lightweight champion
“You have short term goals and long term goals. Short term is to defeat Timofey Nastyukhin in dominant fashion. The long term goal is to get to that gold belt and be the first fighter in history to have every single belt, all the belts from every major organization around the world,” Alvarez explained.
While this ambition burns bright Alvarez is not getting ahead of himself,
“The short term goals for now is about the guy in front of me.”