Not only did he break his two-fight losing skid on the ONE: ‘Dawn Of Heroes’ card, but he also scored a scintillating come-from-behind win that silenced the pro-Folayang crowd inside the Mall Of Asia Arena.
Alvarez had to survive an initial onslaught from Folayang, who rocked the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion with a left hook and then knocked him off balance with a stinging leg kick in the opening moments of the fight
Folayang then swamped Alvarez with a barrage of punches on the mat, but the American’s composure helped him to reverse the position and take the Filipino’s back for the bout-ending rear-naked choke submission.
The 35-year-old native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania admitted that getting his hand raised against Folayang was a big sigh of relief as he was under pressure after falling short in his promotional debut this past March,
“I got the pressure off my chest. There were a lot of things going on, and this victory acted as my redemption after going through all of it. It’s fulfilling on my part as well as for my team,” he said.
Even though he was nursing an injured ankle, it did not stop Alvarez from celebrating the triumph with a holiday. Him and his wife spent a weekend in Boracay, a tropical island about an hour’s flight from Manila, but the trip was a short one.
Alvarez will be facing Saygid Arslanaliev in the Lightweight Grand Prix final at ONE: ‘Century’ on October 13th. It represents a rapid turnaround for the veteran and leaves him little time to recuperate his injured ankle, let alone take a holiday,
“It was a bummer that we didn’t have the luxury of time to fully explore the beautiful island, but we did have the chance to relax and celebrate a little. It’s just one of the sacrifices that I need to make as an athlete,” he said.
A tough test awaits Alvarez in the final round of the tournament as he is set to take on the highly-touted Arslanaliev, who has won eight of his nine matches by either knockout or submission. His sole defeat came in a match where he knocked out an opponent with a soccer kick and was disqualified.
Arslanaliev secured the outright berth to the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix finals by brutally knocking out Ev Ting and Amir Khan in the very first round. Alvarez is far more experienced but is not underestimating his Dagestani opponent,
“It’s the fight game, anything can happen. We all know that. He is young and tough, and he is very aggressive too. I got my hands full. I am no way underestimating him,” he stated.
Confidence is high in Alvarez’s camp after the TKO win over Folayang and he has total belief in his preparation and training process,
“I can’t predict anything in particular, but I know I can beat him. Plus, I have a great team behind me. I trust them, and they know me so well. We will show the world how it is done,” he stressed.
Having won titles with both Bellator and the UFC the American believes he is the man for the big occasion. By contrast Arslanaliev has never even headlined a ONE Championship card and the veteran feels this could give him the edge,
“I always rise to the occasion, just like what I did against Eduard Folayang in Manila. If others are counting me out, be careful because I am here to spoil the party,” he declared.
Getting knocked out by Timofey Nastyukhin in the quarter final was a devastating disappointment for Alvarez. But he has been given a second chance after the Russian suffered an injury and is determined to make the most of it,
“I am happy that I got my second chance after I lost in the first round of the Grand Prix. Now that I am here, winning the tournament is the only thing that I am going to do,” he assured.