It may not happen right away, but before either exit the sport, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong says Eddie Alvarez vs. Shinya Aoki 3 must happen.
Speaking at a media day for this week’s ONE on TNT IV, which has both Alvarez and Aoki on the card, although not against each other, Sityodtong told Cageside Press that “I think before everything is said and done, I think definitely, Eddie and Shinya, the trilogy bout is a must.”
In fact, it’s a fight the promotion tried to put together for Wednesday night. Exclaiming that “I really want to do” Alvarez vs. Aoki 3, Sityodtong revealed that “we were trying to make that fight happen for ONE on TNT IV. It just didn’t happen, but we’d offered that fight to Shinya and Eddie. The trilogy.”
The pair first met at Dynamite 2008, an annual K-1 and Dream hybrid event, with the WAMMA lightweight championship on the line. Aoki submitted Alvarez by heel hook within a round, serving up just the second loss of the Philadelphia native’s career.
The rematch came four years later, in 2012, under the Bellator banner. That time out, it was Alvarez earning a first round stoppage, via TKO. Since “The Underground King” arrived in ONE Championship a few years ago, the rubber match has been an interesting possibility.
Except, perhaps, for Alvarez. “I don’t feel the need to beat Shinya Aoki to put it to rest,” he said during his own media day session on Monday. The rematch was over quick, he added. “But if the trilogy match happens and the fans want it, then it happens. But it’s not something that I necessarily care for or want or need.”
In the meantime, Sityodtong sees Alvarez as a possibility for a title shot with a strong performance this week. While rankings might play a factor, “it also all depends on how Eddie performs. Obviously if he doesn’t perform well, then I don’t think he’s ready for a title shot. If he performs well, then that’s up for consideration,” he stated. “Because Christian Lee has beaten I think the top four ranked lightweights already, there is a strong possibility that if Eddie puts on an incredible performance, than he’s next in line for a title shot. He’s definitely one or two fights away from a title shot.”
If that doesn’t happen, could Aoki get the next shot? The Japanese fighter is looking for his fourth consecutive win on Wednesday. “Definitely. That’s also a possibility,” replied Sityodtong.
Watch the full ONE on TNT IV media day interview with Chatri Sityodtong above. The event takes place Wednesday, April 28, with the main card airing live on TNT starting at 10PM ET.