It had been almost eight years between visits, and this despite several talents boasting roots in the region. Under different conditions, the series will be a great principal event landing spot for Eddie Alvarez, the former UFC champion who wears his Philly pride in a tattoo that was omnipresent.

Instead though, Alvarez had been half-a-world out, at a Tokyo arena beginning afresh with the growing ONE Championship promotion. During the past 12 months, you have undergone a substantial expansion, appearing to export its own glistening presentation to the West. Since July 20 17, the organization has raised $266 million in funding and lately began trickling a few of the cash on fighters–for example Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson and Sage Northcutt–to help raise its international profile.

Its first event explicitly made for this purpose came Sunday. ONE Championship: A New Era was billed as “the most significant MMA series in history,” boasting four championship fights. But for most Western fans, those name conflicts were secondary attractions, in spite of any interest at all; to them, the big event had been about ONE’s current imports, Alvarez and Johnson.

The 2 high-profile fighters to emerge in the organization, they left their debuts on the same night, adding significant visibility to the event while announcing the organization as a person. At some period when barriers are added to MMA fandom–see that the pay wall supporting the UFC’s new dwelling on ESPN+, the newly announced double pay-wall supporting UFC pay-per-views, also Bellator’s recent handle online streaming service DAZN–ONE supplies a live and absolutely free approach through the B/R Live app and about Youtube, though admittedly, the 5:30 a.m. ET Sunday start time stands as a non starter for a few.

Still, you have clearly shown that it is likely to be a person for free agents in the years ahead, which it must be considered an industry threat at to U.S. No. two new Bellator, though its layouts aim straight to the most effective.

They’ll need to become smart, but they’ll also require just a little bit of fortune along the way. Free agent signings at MMA are famously inconsistent. Often, fighters don’t liberated themselves out of long contracts until they’re past their primes, and what’s left is really just a name without the exact identical in-cage firepower.

In that respect, Sunday’s results were also mixed for starters.

A large favorite against Russian Timofey Nastyukhin, Alvarez had been upset, trimmed using a left hook after which rattled against the crate crumpled to the ground. The TKO loss knocked him out from this organization’s lightweight championship tournament, ending his bid for title contention for the foreseeable future.

Where Alvarez failed however, Johnson found victory. Looking refreshed within his first departure since the conclusion of the long UFC flyweight championship predominate, Johnson stopped Yuya Wakamatsu using a nasty position guillotine choke.

If neither of those competitions sounds familiar, this remains section of just one ’s no moving moving forward. To genuinely permeate the U.S. economy, the organization will have to incorporate more recognizable names. (Its next major occasion, for example, includes a Head Liner pitting Martin Nguyen against Narantungalag Jadambaa). Still, the outcomes should act as a wakeup call that the promotion has knack like either of the significant promotions. Alvarez abandoned the UFC as the No. 4 ranked fighter in the world. He pumped out the glorious UFC Philadelphia Head Liner Justin Gaethje only over one yr ago, yet Nastyukhin made short work .

Alvarez’s no reduction except, for anyone who opted to check out ONE’s offerings to the first time on Sunday, it would be hard to imagine them coming off with anything other than a positive opinion. There has been a lot of actions, with finishes in six of the seven main card fights, celebrity power, flashy knock outs (Aung La N Sang over Ken Hasegawa), along with a provocative late come back (Xiong Jing Nan over Angela Lee).

Even when just one of just one ’s two major acquisitions walked off with a success, both battles were despised worthy, and Overall, it was a rollicking great night (or morning, if you had been watching at the us ).

To be sure, there’s still plenty of work to complete for starters. Placing a worldwide sports organization is no small feat, a task that’s flummoxed far more established leagues and teams. By advancing its own roster and navigating foreign organization ponds to coping with cultural differences and managing a program with contradictory international timezones, ONE is confronting headwinds that will at times blow with hurricane force.

While the promotion’therefore ambition is evident, its prospective on the worldwide stage remains obscure. Yet unpredictability is still one of the primary draws of MMA for a reason. Literally anything could occur. Last-second come-backs, hidden rises, mindbending physics–you want to say we’t seen it all, but something fresh always seems to come along. Still, there’s 1 thing that struggle buffs cannot fathom: the chance of an actual challenger to the UFC. Having its key event on Sunday starting that which it hopes for a bold new future, ONE Championship seeks to accomplish exactly that. So that as Nastyukhin reminded us against Alvarez, in regards to MMA, such a thing remains possible.

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