TOKYO (AP) — Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson will make their One Championship debuts when the mixed martial arts promotion’s first show takes place on Sunday at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s premier sumo venue.
Alvarez will face Russian lightweight contender Timofey Nasyukhin when he steps into the ring at the historic venue.
The American mixed martial arts star held the UFC 155-pound title in 2016 before losing it to Conor McGregor. Alvarez is from Philadelphia, but has fought in Japan several times earlier in his career.
“It’s always my intention to dominate my opponent,” Alvarez said Thursday. “I’m here to dominate from start to finish. I respond well to dangerous things. I’ve got the fight I asked for.”
Nasyukhin owns the record for the fastest finish in One history when he knocked out Rob Lisita in May 2016 just seconds after the opening bell.
Johnson and Alvarez are two former UFC champions who moved to the Singapore-based One Championship this year.
Johnson, the long-reigning UFC flyweight champion, will take on Japanese flyweight Yuya Wakamatsu.
“I look forward to challenging Yuya Wakamatsu, he’s a great Japanese athlete,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be interesting. He comes from a great camp. It’s been a long time coming for me to be here in Japan and fight in front of my Japanese fans.”
The show will also feature atomweight champion Angela Lee’s move up to challenge One strawweight champion Xiong Jing Nan. Middleweight champion Aung La N Sang and lightweight champion Eduard Folayang also will defend their belts against Japanese challengers.
The original Ryogoku Kokugikan first opened in 1909. The current building was opened in 1985 and has a capacity of 11,000.
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.