ONE Championship Highlights: Demetrious Johnson Wins, Eddie Alvarez KO'd

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2019

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters Demetrious Johnson of the United States celebrates after defeating Japan's Yuya Wakamatsu during their flyweight world grand prix quarterfinal of One Championship bout in Tokyo, Sunday, March 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

Demetrious Johnson enjoyed a winning debut in ONE Championship, choking out Yuya Wakamatsu on Sunday, but it was a night to forget for fellow newcomer Eddie Alvarez.

Johnson was made to work hard at times by Wakamatsu, but he eventually got the job done in the second round after locking in a guillotine choke on his opponent, per BR Live (U.S. only):

"He's good about crossing distance, and the type of game he plays, he wants you to cross distance so he hits you with his right hand and left hook," Johnson said after the win, per Jeff Wagenheim of ESPN. "So for me, I just had a hard time crossing distance carefully. ... But sometimes you battle through adversity in the cage or in life. You just keep on pushing through it."

Alvarez, the event’s other big star, didn’t get off to a winning start, though, as he was knocked out in the opening round of his fight with Timofey Nastyukhin. 

The Russian stunned Alvarez with a blistering left-right combination and backed up Alvarez against the cage to finish the contest:

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"It's my style," said Nastyukhin after his upset win, per Wagenheim. "I love to finish fights in the first round by knockout, so I did it."

Johnson arrived in ONE Championship having established a reputation as one of the finest flyweights in MMA history. 

In his previous outing, he was beaten at UFC 227 by Henry Cejudo in a split decision, but he’d won 13 bouts in a row prior to that loss, including a record 11 successful title defences.

Alvarez’s loss was his second in succession, as he was knocked out by Dustin Poirer in July last year.