“It would be ideal for me if we fought on the ground but, for the fans, I want to fight and win by standing with him because it gives a better show. If he doesn’t drop me I won’t mind dropping him. When champions fall it makes a lot of noise,” he said.
Eddie Alvarez is a household name in the MMA world. Anyone with even a passing interest in the sport knows exactly who the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion is.
Arslanaliev has been following his opponent’s career as a fan and now finds himself facing a fighter he is very familiar with,
“He is a great fighter, and of course, I have been following his career for ages. He was a champion in other top organizations so it is an honor to fight him and show my skills against his in ONE.”
Alvarez was knocked out by Nastyukhin on his aforementioned ONE Championship debut. After the Russian pulled out of the semi finals with injury along with Ariel Sexton and Lowen Tynanes he was reinstated in the tournament.
In the semi final Alvarez was rocked by Eduard Folayang but recovered to submit the Filipino. The significance of the result and performance was not lost on Arslanaliev,
“He fights with heart and he doesn’t give up, he is a true fighter. He has good grappling skills, great stand-up and his kicks are not bad either.”
Interestingly, Arslanaliev has decided to train in his native Dagestan for this fight. In the past he has conducted camps in Phuket but feels more comfortable surrounded by home comforts,
“As always, I am training very hard because I want to put on a great show and demonstrate my technique. This time I am getting ready in my homeland where I have the support of my close friends (and) I feel more focused. In the past, I used to prepare in Thailand at Phuket Top Team and Tiger Muay Thai but to be honest there are too many distractions in Thailand.”
He believes that training in his homeland is the perfect way to prepare for what promises to be a career defining contest,
“When I’m in Dagestan I feel calmer, I feel more grounded. Maybe this is that place of power for me where I had to come back to feel its energy before this fight. I feel no stress, I train and I ride horses in my spare time, something I could not do in Thailand.”
Arslanaliev has stopped every opponent he has ever faced, even if one of his victories was recorded as a loss as he landed an illegal strike.
But the Dagestan native has never truly tasted defeat or been the distance. If he can keep that record intact against Alvarez then it will be time to start talking about exactly where he ranks alongside the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
It’s a big opportunity and a massive stage. The event will be broadcast live in the U.S. and thousands of fans will be tuning in to see how former UFC champions Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson fare in Asia.
It promises to be an occasion unlike which Arslanaliev has ever experienced. He admits there are nerves but is adamant that he has what it takes to overcome Alvarez and announce himself to the world,
“I am following the media build-up of our fight and it makes me a bit nervous but mostly it puts me in the right mood. I can’t wait for the big day to come. I want to fight.”