MMA legend suffers upset by opponent in One Championship debut
By JIM ARMSTRONG AP Sports Writer
TOKYO (AP) — Russian Timofey Nasyukhin upset American Eddie Alvarez with a first-round technical knockout in the mixed martial arts One Championship, March 31, at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s premier sumo venue.
Nasyukhin floored Alvarez with a right hand to the side of the head with 55 seconds left in the opening round of the lightweight bout, which was Alvarez’s debut with One Championship.
Nasyukhin kicked high early and put a two-punch combination together when Alvarez attempted to pressure him backward. He sent the former UFC 155-pound title holder down with a right hand two minutes in.
With a minute left, Nasyukhin again stunned Alvarez who went down on a knee and his opponent was relentless until the referee stepped in.
“This has been the case most of my career, people have underestimated me,” the 28-year-old Nasyukhin said. “I knew that he was a better opponent than me and he’s an MMA legend but I used that as motivation.”
The 35-year-old Alvarez, who hadn’t fought since July 2018, was unavailable for comment after the bout as he was taken to a nearby hospital.
American Demetrious Johnson, also making his One Championship debut, won his flyweight bout when he got Japan’s Yuya Wakamatsu in a choke hold at 2 minutes, 40-seconds of the second round.
“Yuya is a tough opponent,” Johnson said. “Being my first fight in Japan, I knew I was going to face some adversity. I wanted to challenge him and when you challenge someone, you leave yourself open to getting hit but it was a great fight.”
Johnson and Alvarez are two former UFC champions who moved to the Singapore-based One Championship this year.
One has staged shows across Asia from Myanmar to China over the past seven years, but waited to take its shot at the martial arts-loving fan base in Japan, where several major MMA organizations have risen and fallen over the years. One also plans to debut in Vietnam and South Korea later in 2019.
Also, Aung La N Sang retained his middleweight title with a second-round TKO of challenger Ken Hasegawa.
With 30 seconds left, La N Sang landed a massive right hand. Hasegawa immediately fell to the canvas and La N Sang moved in to get the finish.
Jing Nan Xiong defeated Angela Lee to keep her strawweight title.
Xiong survived a series of submission attempts in the fourth round then countered in the final frame with body kicks and got the TKO stoppage at the 1:37 mark of the fifth round.
Challenger Shinya Aoki gave the sellout crowd of 11,000 a thrill when he won his lightweight bout over Eduard Folayang with a choke hold in the first round.