Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The First Fights for Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez in ONE Championship, Matt Hume Conflict of Interest

By now just about everyone knows that ONE Championship has announced the first matchups for Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alverez which are both slated to fight on their first ever show in Japan, entitled “A New Era” on March 31st next year. Which was already a stacked card before they added DJ and Eddie to it.

Let’s kick it off with Eddie Alvarez whos last fight had him suffer a KO defeat to Dustin Poirier and he’s only tasted victory in a single outing in his last four fights. That being said he is a former UFC champ and has been fighting exceptional talent for years.

His first opponent in ONE will be 12 and 4  Timofey Nastyukhin, who is coming off a first-round KO loss to Saygid Arsianaliev earlier this year.

I wouldn’t call Timofey a top tier fighter just yet in his career, he has notable wins over Rob Lisita and Eduard Folayng, but he hasn’t put together a body of work that would make me think he is ready for Eddie Alvarez at this juncture.

That doesn’t mean he’s hands down outmatched here, he’s at a point where this could be the win that shoots him into that top tier. He’s got all the tools, we just need to see if he can execute against someone of Eddie's caliper. We’ll find out in March.

Now, that brings us to DJ. And this is where we have to jump into a much more detailed conversation.

Now Demetrious Johnson might be coming off a loss to Henry Cejudo, But he is still considered by many, myself included, to be one of the greatest fighters to ever strap on 4oz gloves.

The things he accomplished at 125lbs in the UFC, against the best in the sport are amazing. So no matter who he faces first it’s going to seem like an unfair fight. But when I see he is facing 10 and 3 Pancrase veteran Yuya Wakamatsu I have to scratch my head.

I understand that ONE probably doesn’t want DJ to jump right into the title picture, but he has to be in that top tier right off the bat.

I was a bit surprised that he wasn’t matched with Danny Kingad who actually handed Wakamatsu his most recent loss.

Or the fight I really want to see would be against former Flyweight champ Karait Akhmetov. Who is an absolute beast. Now that is the fight I think everyone who follows Asian MMA wants to see in ONE Championship.

Unfortunately, I have to bring this up, but one of the things that will always be a concern with DJ fighting in ONE Championship until it’s addressed is that his coach, Matt Hume is also the matchmaker and VP of Operations for ONE Championship, that is a clear conflict of interest.

I’ve yet to hear anything form ONE on if they will be putting a system in place to ensure that Matt Hume isn’t involved in any of DJs matchmaking or any other aspect of his fights, and I reached out to ask that question to several people at ONE and they basically told me it’s not something they are addressing at this point.

To be clear, I’ve never observed anything from Matt Hume that would make me think there is something underhanded going on or that there would be. The few times I’ve met him he’s been great, and all the people I know who work with him on a regular basis at ONE have nothing but positive things to say about him. But that conflict of interest is still a reality that ONE should really address and put to bed.

All that aside, I am still excited to see DJ in ONE and I can’t wait for this fight. And with any luck, he moves right into a title shot and starts rocking some crazy e-sports content for ONE as well.

As I mentioned at the top of the episode the rest of that Japan card is stacked! There are three title fights on the card, Woman's Strawweight champ Xiong Jin Nan will face woman's atomweight champ, Angela Lee. Middleweight champ Aung La N Sang will face off with Ken Hasegawa and lightweight champ Eduard Folayang will go toe-to-toe with Asian MMA Legend Shinya Aoki.

What do you guys think of DJ and Eddies first matches in ONE Championship? Are they what you expected? Or were you hoping for something different?

Let me know.

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