MMA: After 1 win in 4 years, Eddie Alvarez leaves One Championship 'amicably'

Eddie Alvarez in his One Championship fight against Ok Rae-yoon in April 2021. PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

SINGAPORE - With little fanfare, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Eddie Alvarez's underwhelming run in One Championship came to an end on Wednesday when the 38-year-old announced he was no longer contracted to the Singapore-headquartered mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation.

"Confirmed, I am no longer with One," the American star said on Twitter. "We parted ways amicably and I remain on good terms with the One team. I want to thank Chatri for the opportunity and I look forward to watching their continued success. I'm officially a free agent and ready to hunt."

One chief executive officer and co-founder Chatri Sityodtong later sent out a tweet of his own thanking Alvarez and said: "I have nothing, but love and respect for Eddie. He is a true legend of the fight game."

Alvarez was touted as a game-changer for One when he signed in October 2018 and became arguably the biggest name to join its roster. He had headlined a UFC pay-per-view with MMA megastar Conor McGregor less than two years prior, in November 2016.

He revealed then that his deal with One Championship "crushed" offers he received from other MMA organisations all over the world, and guaranteed him "eight figures", meaning that by the end of his stint, he would have earned at least US$10 million (S$14.2 million).

For most of his eight UFC fights, Alvarez earned about US$100,000 each time. The biggest payout was the US$540,000 he pocketed when he faced McGregor.

Dubbed 'The Underground King', the Philadelphia native toiled to success with more than half a dozen modest professional MMA organisations, before gold-laden stints in No. 2 American promotion Bellator and then global juggernaut UFC.

But he leaves One with only four fights over four years, winning once, losing twice and with a no-contest in the other.

He suffered a stunning technical knockout by Russian rival Timofey Nastyukhin in his One debut in March 2019, picking up a gruesome eye injury in the process.

He rebounded by beating former One lightweight champion Eduard Folayang of the Philippines five months later but then was disqualified in his next fight, against Moldovan Iuri Lapicus, for punches to the back of the head. This decision was later overturned and changed into to a no-contest after Alvarez appealed.

He then fought South Korean Ok Rae-yoon in a hastily-arranged bout three weeks later, but lost by unanimous decision. Few would have expected that that would be his last appearance on a One stage.

The way his stint fizzled out might be why Alvarez is considering one last run - he has been rumoured to return to combat sport organisations the United States like Bellator or the Professional Fighters League or even Bare Knuckle FC - before retiring for good.

As one MMA star wanes, another appears to be on the rise in the sport as Raul Rosas Jr. made history on Wednesday by becoming the youngest fighter signed to a contract by the UFC.

The American bantamweight, who turns 18 on Oct 8, impressed UFC president Dana White on its Contender Series television show so much he was offered a contract on the spot.

"I've never seen anything like it," White said of Rosas. "Not only that, the amount of fighters blowing me up saying you're crazy not to (sign him)... He's absolutely, positively talented. He's special, he's different."

The teen is already eyeing success, and wants to surpass UFC legend Jon Jones as the organisation's youngest world champion. Jones won the light heavyweight title at 23 in 2011.

Said Rosas: "I'm the new king in here, so I'm coming for that belt now. ... I'm gonna be champion when I'm 20. Respect to everybody, but I'm gonna be champion when I'm 20, or even earlier. Nobody is gonna stop me."

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