Eddie Alvarez wasn’t planning on a vacation.
But he certainly did enjoy it.
Alvarez, the hall of fame mixed martial artist, last stepped in the cage Aug. 19, 2019, when he choked out Eduard Folayang in Alvarez’s second fight in One Fighting Championship in the semifinals of a grand prix tournament.
Alvarez was slated to get back in the cage in the finals, but he suffered an injury that kept him from fighting.
Then, he recovered, but before he could return to action, coronavirus shut everything down, and Alvarez was unable to fight for the Singapore-based mixed martial arts, Muay Thai and kickboxing promotion that made a big splash in the fight game by signing top fighters like the North Catholic grad.
So like everyone else, Alvarez was sent to the sideline. But he didn’t waste his time, he enjoyed himself.
“I had a busy year before, I fought twice and was going to fight a third, but then I got injured, then COVID came,” said Alvarez, a Kensington native who was a star wrestler at North Catholic before graduating in 2001. “It was unfortunate, but whenever I’ve had a long layoff before, it’s been a positive. You give your body a rest, your mind a rest, and you get a chance to miss the sport.
“We did a ton of stuff. Anything we could do, we did. Whenever we could travel, we went to Disney. We traveled a little, I’m not afraid to check something out when we have a chance. And as soon as we could, we opened the pool immediately, so we had a lot of pool days. We made the most of it.”
Now, he’s making the most out of his opportunity to get back to doing what he does best.
The Underground King (30-7) will take on Iuri Lapicus, who is 14-1, on April 7 on a ONE Championship event that will air during prime time on TNT.
Also fighting on the card, which will be held in Singapore, is fellow UFC alum and top fighter Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
When ONE signed Alvarez, it was to bring one of the game’s brightest stars to the promotion to gain some momentum. After dropping his first fight, Alvarez recovered for a big win in his second fight, and now he has his sights set on procuring gold in the promotion.
So does his opponent.
“He’s young, up and coming,” Alvarez said of his foe. “He was undefeated before his last fight, he’s got a grappling background. Coming off the first loss ever. I’m looking at a young, motivated, hungry kid. He’s dangerous.
“It’s my obligation to show him he’s going up against a guy who still has a lot. I put in the years and took my losses. It’s time to show my thing or two, and let him know he has to put more time in to beat someone like me.”
Lapicus has championship potential, but he’s not fighting Alvarez at an ideal time.
Alvarez, who has won championships in Bellator and UFC, knows to get into the title picture, he has to win this fight. And going by his past, he’s always come up big when titles are on the line.
He couldn’t be more focused.
“I feel really good because when you have so much time off, you start to miss it and you can’t wait to get back,” Alvarez said. “When you’re in it and it’s all that exists, it’s difficult to get excited, but having a little layoff, a relief button, it makes you want it again. My mind and body were ready to get back.”
That’s not to say Alvarez’s hiatus was spent away from the sport.
As a 20-year veteran of the sport, he’s one of the best social media follows for fight fans because he often breaks down fights, gives predictions and explains things from an insider’s perspective.
He’s also helped out other fighters in their fight camps by pointing out things he sees with his expert eye.
He loves helping out, but he has no plans of jumping into the coaching game anytime soon. In fact, ever.
“I love watching and pointing things out, and I enjoy talking about it,” Alvarez said. “I like helping people, but I could never coach because of the time commitment. Coaching, you spend twice as much time preparing for a fight as a fighter. I like spending my time with my family, and I don’t think I could make that commitment.
“I would like to be an analyst. I love breaking down fights and talking about it. I really enjoy it.”
He also is happy to have come so far in the fight game.
And he’s looking forward to getting back in the cage.
He wants to win because it will lead to a championship fight, but just like he always has, he’s in no great rush to fight for the title. He just wants to keep doing what he loves to do.
“I was born a fighter and I know I’ll be here for a long time, I’ve never been in a rush for anything,” Alvarez said. “The only rush I ever had was I wanted to stop doing concrete work and fight for a living. When I was 21, 22, I wanted to stop doing that and spend time working on fighting. Once that happened, I knew it was a marathon, not a rush. I knew that time would make me a better fighter.”
Alvarez’s fight will be on TNT, and like all of his fights, it will be shown at Malthouse, 704 Huntingdon Pike in Rockledge. The bar is one of his biggest sponsors.
“It’s a great place, they’ll be watching me there,” he said.