Eddie Alvarez and a brief history of ONE Championship’s biggest athlete signings

Santino Honasan on Oct 18, 2018 04:30 PM
A brief history of ONE's biggest athlete signings
ONE Championship has managed to attract some big names over the years.

Asian mixed martial arts promotion ONE Championship has steadily established themselves as the number one mixed martial arts promotion in Asia by putting on their exciting brand of action all across Asia, featuring some of the biggest names in martial arts from all over the world.

Most recently, ONE Champioship welcomed yet another big name in former UFC and Bellator world champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez to their already-talent rich roster.

Alvarez, however, isn’t the first UFC world champion to set foot inside a ONE Championship cage.

Early editions of ONE, then known as ONE Fighting Championship, featured a number of  former UFC world champions, namely heavyweights Tim Sylvia and Andre Arlovski, as well as former lightweight champion Jens Pulver, who were all part of ONE’s inaugural card in Manila back in 2012.

On that same card, Brazilian grappler and former Dream champion Bibiano Fernandes made his promotional debut defeating Gustavo Falciroli via unanimous decision. The following year, Fernandes caputred the inaugural ONE Bantamweight World Champion, and has held on to it since, with eight successful defenses, making him the most dominant champion in ONE history.

Also in 2012, Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki made his promotional debut, defeating Arnaud Lepont via submission. By that time, Aoki was already a household name in mixed martial arts circles after establishing himself as one of the most feared grapplers in the game. Aoki was a veteran of PRIDE FC, Dream, Shooto, Strikeforce, and Bellator before coming over to ONE. In 2013, Aoki eventually captured the promotion’s lightweight crown and held it until 2016.

That same year, it was announced that former Bellator Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren had also signed with ONE Championship. In 2014, Askren made his debut, defeating Bakhityar Abbasov via submission. Askren went on to win the inaugural ONE Welterweight World Championship later that year, and held on to the title until retiring as champion back in 2017, capping off his career with a fourth-successful title defense.

Also in 2014, ONE Championship welcomed another big name in former UFC star Brandon Vera. The Filipino-American heavyweight made his debut in Manila with a win over Igor Subora. The following year, Vera captured the inaugural ONE Heavyweight World Championship with a 26-second demolition of Paul Cheng. Vera is still the reigning heavyweight titleholder with one defense under his belt.

With the introduction of the striking-based ONE Super Series, ONE Championship has also brought in some of the world’s biggest names in Muay Thai and Kickboxing, including world champions Giorgio Petrosyan, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Andy Souwer, as well as former WEC and UFC standout Anthony Njokuani.

Alvarez is just the latest in a long line of big name-signing that ONE Championship has managed to pull off, and looking at the track record of these names, it looks like Alvarez is bound for success in the promotion.

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