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Preview: Former UFC champs Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez make their ONE debuts

Check out the breakdown of Sunday’s early morning ONE Championship: A New Era main card, including the promotional debuts of former UFC elites Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez.

ONE Championship: A New Era is scheduled to kickoff this Sunday, March 31 from Tokyo, Japan. The main card will involve four rematches, four title fights, as well as the promotional debuts of former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and UFC flyweight champion/pound-for-pound player Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

ONE Championship: A New Era takes place this Sunday, March 31, and will air live on the ONE Championship app at 5:30 A.M. ET. The prelims will begin at 2:30 A.M. ET and will stream live on Facebook and Twitter via ONE Championship.

Arguably one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, the 27-3-1 Demetrious Johnson, is making his promotional debut against the 10-3 Pancrase veteran, Yuya Wakamatsu in ONE’s Flyweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal. Wakamatsu has never faced anyone close to the caliber of a “Might Mouse,” but then again, not many have. Johnson is quite fluent in all facets of MMA, as expected from the greatest flyweight of all-time, so Wakamatsu is going to have his hands full to say the least.

The 29-6 former world champ Eddie Alvarez has never been short on toughness, while typically being high on excitement. Known for his lethal punches to both the body and head, Alvarez makes his promotional debut against the 12-4 ONE veteran Timofey Nastyukhin. There’s a solid chance that Nastyukhin will opt to keep it standing, thus making it a show for the crowd. This fight will be part of ONE’s lightweight World Grand Prix quarter-finals and should be quite the banger.

Capping off the evening, ONE’s lightweight champion, Eduard Folayang, rematches lethal grappler and MMA great, Shinya Aoki. The first time these warriors met in ONE back in 2016, Aoki owned the early grappling exchanges. Come the second round, Folayang began to punish the body and was able to pound out the submission specialist. It’s no surprise what Aoki is coming to do, so the question is whether or not Folayang can stop the takedown and find his moment to explode and end the fight.

ONE’s 9-0 undefeated atomweight champion, Angela Lee, is looking to become a two-division champ when she challenges ONE’s current strawweight queen, the 13-1 Jingnan Xiong. Lee is known for her slick grappling, with six of her nine wins coming by way of submission. She is also more than willing to engage on the feet, but the punching power of Jingnan is undeniable. Jingnan throws her punches with bad intensions as she presses forward, which is quite a lot to deal with, defensively speaking. Jingnan’s commitment to her strikes does open her up for the takedown, which could play right into the game of Lee. Regardless of who is winning, this matchup should be highly entertaining throughout.

ONE’s middleweight title will be up for grabs when the 24-10 two-division champ Aung La Nsang takes on the 16-3-1 Ken Hasegawa for the second time. The first time these warriors went at it, Hasegawa met Aung La’s power with his own power, going strike for strike early on to make it an exciting fight. It ended up becoming a war of attrition, and it was Aung La who dug deep and pulled out the late fifth-round knockout. Their initial matchup took place less than a year ago, so there’s a great chance of this fight looking a lot like the last one. This should be a crowd pleaser.

The promotion’s bantamweight title will also be on the line when the 20-5 champion Kevin Belingon has a rubber match with the 22-3 former champ, Bibiano Fernandes. The first time these kings collided, Fernandes pulled out a first-round Kimura. The second time they locked horns, this past November, they waged absolute war. Belingon had his moments on the feet while Bibiano had his success on the ground. Belingon ended up edging out a tightly contested split decision, and it’s highly doubtful that this trilogy fight will disappoint.

Opening up the main card will be a kickboxing rematch between legends Andy Souwer and Yodsanklai Iwe. Souwer won their initial meeting, but that was a really long time ago, and this time they’re wearing MMA gloves. This should be a lot of fun and a great way to kickoff the main show.