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Eddie Alvarez: Timofey Nastyukhin’s punch ‘instantly blinded me and split both eyelids in half’

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The former UFC champion has a message for fans after his disappointing first round TKO loss in his ONE Championship debut.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Calgary-Alvarez vs Poirier Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes down to performances in the cage, the last year has not been particularly kind to Eddie Alvarez. The former Bellator and UFC champion ended 2017 with a bang; a highlight reel KO over current top ranked UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje. Months later, in the final fight of his UFC contract, he would lose via TKO in a rematch to Dustin Poirier to settle the score of their controversial first fight.

Alvarez then took his talents to ONE Championship, where the 35-year-old 16-year MMA veteran was expected to be one of the Singapore-based promotion’s top new stars. Alongside Demetrious Johnson, Alvarez stepped into the ONE cage for the first time on March 31st, in the opening round of a lightweight Grand Prix. Four minutes later and he was being picked up off the canvas, having been handed one of the worst losses of his career, against the relatively unheralded Russian, Timofey Nastyukhin.

In a post on Instagram, Alvarez detailed what went wrong. From his trouble pulling the trigger in the opening minutes, to the clubbing punch that busted his eye apart and ended the fight.

Hey guys First and foremost congrats to Timofey in his victory,” Alvarez wrote on the social media platform, “He is very deserving of everything that comes with victory and I wish him the best in the continued tournament. Honestly speaking how I fought my One Championship debut is not a reflection of my training my coaches, my team, it’s not even a reflection of my beliefs. I am sincerely disappointed and confused in my inability to not pull the trigger and my hesitancy on recent fight nights, it’s been quite confusing to figure out the past year or so. Coach Mark always stresses “hesitancy is Death” and it’s not something that is even in my character to do.

In this particular fight I waited too long for an opening and paid the ultimate price. The punch that hit me, instantly blinded me and split both eyelids in half. It felt like my eye exploded from the inside and the pain was instant. From an outsider watching myself I should of have expected the result considering my actions. You have to punch, kick, takedown and pressure to win a fight, I waited. I simply waited too long for the correct timing and opening that never came.

Fighting continues to teach me life lessons thru my victories and even more through tough defeats. Victory and defeat are by products of putting it on the line, they have been inescapable throughout my whole life. I hope to be judged on how I adjust and pivot from defeat and behave in victory rather than the result of a small moment in time. To my Wife /kids family, coaches, teams mates, friends and to all the fans, thank you always for your continued support, doing this is very lonely and isolated, a simple pat on the back goes a long long way. Thank you thank you thank you. I will make adjustments and come back true to form.

Alvarez also shared a couple of photos of his eye post fight. Warning, for those with especially queasy stomachs, they’re a bit graphic.

For his part, Nastyukhin will now face longtime ONE Championship talent Lowen Tynanes. Tynanes (10-0) started his career with the promotion all the way back in 2013, at ONE FC 7, before a contract dispute with KOTC derailed his promising career. Tynanes made his return to competition, after a three year absence, against Honorio Banario in January of 2019, winning that fight by first round TKO.

On the other side of the bracket, Ariel Sexton is set to face Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev, following the two men’s opening round victories. A date for the semi-final matchups has not yet been set. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and updates as the tournaments continue.