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Triple Take: What to make of Eddie Alvarez’s disastrous ONE Championship debut

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In late 2018, former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez made big news when it was announced he had signed with Asian MMA powerhouse ONE Championship. Alvarez was put right into the mix in the promotion’s lightweight grand prix, and most expectations were that he probably would wind up the champion in short order. But in his debut Sunday, Timofey Nastyukhin shattered that dream when he took out Alvarez with a first-round TKO at “ONE Championship 92: A New Era” in Tokyo.

It’s been less than three years since Alvarez won the UFC’s 155-pound title in just his fourth fight with the promotion. But since then, he is 1-3 with a no-contest, and all three losses are by knockout. So what does the loss mean for Alvarez’s immediate future? What about his legacy? MMA Junkie’s Ben Fowlkes, Steven Marrocco and Fernanda Prates sound off in this edition of “Triple Take.”

Ben Fowlkes: Write him off at your own peril

I wish I had a nickel for every time Alvarez was declared a bust. I would have as many as three or four nickels, which, OK, isn’t a lot, but free nickels are free nickels, baby.

Remember when he came to the UFC after that extremely contentious contract negotiation with Bellator? He lost his first fight in the octagon, a decision to Donald Cerrone, and a lot of gloomy conclusions followed thereafter. Alvarez was too small for the UFC’s lightweight division. His best years were behind him. The wars in Japan and the fights with Michael Chandler had taken their tolls.

Then two years later, he was the UFC lightweight champ.

Of course, he lost that belt to Conor McGregor, then had that no-contest with Dustin Poirier, and OK, now Alvarez was done. Except for the fact that he went out there and knocked out renowned Archduke of Violence Justin Gaethje in his next fight.

Point is, Alvarez is one of those fighters who knows how to bounce back. Obviously there’s got to come a point when age and the sheer mileage of his well-traveled career will catch up with him. He’s 35 and he’s been at this for more than 15 years now, so his days in the sport are probably numbered.

All I’m saying is, don’t assume that one loss to a guy you’ve never heard of is the death knell. If Alvarez came back from this debut loss to become the ONE lightweight champ, it wouldn’t be at all unprecedented for him.

Next page – Steven Marrocco: Why this loss is most concerning for the ‘Underground King’

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