Eddie Alvarez ready for Eduard Folayang
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 28, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez flew in from New York on a PAL flight yesterday morning with manager Lloyd Pierson and declared that he’s ready to rumble against Filipino mixed martial arts legend Eduard Folayang at ONE: Dawn of Heroes in the MOA Arena on Aug. 2.

“I realize Folayang has the hometown advantage and the crowd will be loud backing him up,” said Alvarez. “But to me, fighting is about taking advantage of your opponent’s mistakes. If Folayang comes in tentative, he’ll pay for it. If he comes in too aggressive, he’ll pay for it, too. This is my first time to fight in the Philippines and I’m excited. My striking coach Mark Henry and my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach Ricardo Almeida are arriving in a few days to work my corner. I respect Folayang a lot but I’m here to win.”

Alvarez, 35, enters the octagon with tons of experience. His record is 29-7, with 16 KOs, seven submissions and six decisions. One of his losses was to Conor McGregor on a second round knockout before 20,427 fans at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 2016.  The gate receipts of $17.7 Million set a record for an MMA event and the attendance was the highest for a domestic show at the Garden.

“My fight against McGregor was crazy,” said Alvarez who is of Puerto Rican and Irish descent. “The weigh-in was supposed to be free to the public but because of the huge public interest, they ended up charging $20 for a ticket and we had a crowd of over 15,000. The fight itself was sold out and tickets went for up to $30,000 each.”

Alvarez said he succeeded in getting under McGregor’s skin during a press conference. “He kept talking about money but I noticed his mink coat still had a price tag so I asked if he stole it,” said Alvarez. “I also told him it’s not right for him to get welfare. McGregor collected a welfare check from the Irish government a few days before booking a flight to Stockholm for a fight. Welfare is supposed to be for women with no jobs or men who can’t work. McGregor doesn’t deserve a welfare check.”

But Alvarez failed to bring down McGregor who was Floyd Mayweather’s last victim. “It was a bad night,” he said. “I got hit and never recovered from it. But I went home with about $2 million. Will we do a rematch? I’m all for it but I doubt if it will ever happen.”

Alvarez said Asian fight fans are the best in the world. “They’re knowledgeable,” he said. “They respect the sport. I’ve fought seven fights in Japan and it’s an honor fighting in front of Japanese fans who appreciate MMA. They’re not idiots who get drunk and watch the fights to party. I’m expecting a similar reaction from Filipino fans.”

Alvarez said he learned how to box when he was eight in Kensington, a drug-infested neighborhood in Philadelphia where the crime rate is 83 percent higher than the national average in the US. “That’s where they filmed the Rocky movies,” he said. “People walk around in the streets doing nothing. I fought in the streets. It’s a tough place to live in. I got out when I was 21 and now I live in Roseboro in northeast Pennsylvania with my wife and our four kids, including three boys. Our oldest is 14 and our youngest, a girl, is four.”

Alvarez said he never went to college. “I finished high school (Northeast Catholic in Philadelphia) then I started fighting as a professional,” he said. “But I read a lot. I’m street-smart.” His manager Pierson said Alvarez is the only fighter he knows who trades in stocks and bonds. Alvarez turned pro in 2003 and made his UFC debut in 2014. In 2016, he halted Rafael dos Anjos at 3:49 of the first round to capture the UFC lightweight belt in Las Vegas. Alvarez surrendered the crown on his first defense to McGregor. He’s coming off back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier and Timofey Nastyukhin, both by stoppage and hopes to return on the winning track at Folayang’s expense.

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