Eddie Alvarez. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
WAMMA TO RECOGNIZE WINNER OF NEW YEAR’S EVE MATCH BETWEEN EDDIE ALVAREZ AND SHINYA AOKI AS FIRST-EVER WAMMA LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION
After reports had circulated for several weeks that a highly-anticipated lightweight attraction set for New Year’s Eve between Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki would decide the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts’ (WAMMA) first-ever undisputed lightweight champion, WAMMA officials announced Monday that it will recognize the winner of the bout as its first-ever lightweight champion.
The undisputed WAMMA lightweight title bout between Alvarez, WAMMA’s number two ranked lightweight, and Aoki, WAMMA’s number three ranked lightweight, will take place December 31 in Saitama, Japan at the Saitama Super Arena during FEG’s “FieLDS Dynamite!!”
“New Year’s Eve is rich in both history and tradition for combat sports in Japan,” stated WAMMA Chief Operating Officer Michael Lynch. “FEG officials have put together an amazing night of fights and WAMMA is looking forward to recognizing the winner of the Aoki vs. Alvarez fight as our first-ever lightweight champion.”
Lynch also added that while the Alvarez vs. Aoki matchup will determine the first-ever WAMMA lightweight champion that the belt will be awarded to the winner during a special ceremony to be held at a later date.
Alvarez was a two-time All-American high school wrestler at Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia and has gone 15-1 since becoming a professional mixed martial artist. A former BodogFIGHT welterweight champion, Alvarez made the decision to drop to the lightweight division earlier this year.
Starting with a 165 pound catchweight bout in Atlantic City this past January, the 24-year old father of two has gone 4-0 as a lightweight. The undefeated streak includes a 3-0 run during DREAM’s lightweight Grand Prix that only ended after Alvarez was unable to receive medical clearance to compete in the finals.
“Dynamite!!” will provide Alvarez a chance at redemption, as he had been scheduled to compete against Aoki in the Grand Prix finals.
Aoki is 18-3 and widely regarded as one of the top submission fighters in MMA with black belts in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The 25-year old Japan native has earned his number three WAMMA lightweight ranking with notable victories over current DREAM lightweight champion and WAMMA number five ranked lightweight Joachim Hansen; WAMMA number eight ranked lightweight Gesias “JZ Calvan” Calvancante; former two-time UFC lightweight title challenger Caol Uno; and former Shooto middleweight champion Akira Kikuchi.
The reports of the Alvarez vs. Aoki bout deciding WAMMA’s undisputed lightweight champion were not met with universal praise. Several critics have made the valid point that UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn is currently the organization’s number one rated lightweight, a designation he has held for almost a year.
“WAMMA’s board of directors supports the WAMMA pollsters in their recognition of B.J. Penn as the number one rated lightweight fighter in the world,” Lynch began to explain. “However, Penn has not fought since May 24 and isn’t scheduled to compete again until January 31. His Jan. 31 fight will be contested at welterweight against Georges St. Pierre for the UFC’s 170 pound crown. If Penn wins, UFC President Dana White has already stated that Penn’s next fight will be a welterweight title defense against Thiago Alves. Needless to say, Penn’s future as a regular competitor in the lightweight division is uncertain.
“With our number two and three ranked lightweight fighters scheduled to compete on one of the sport’s biggest stages, we felt that the fight was worthy of determining WAMMA’s first-ever lightweight champion. But we’re a fan-forward organization and we are aware of the criticism. If after the St. Pierre fight it becomes clear that Penn’s future is at lightweight, WAMMA will approach the UFC with the hope of facilitating a fight between Penn and the WAMMA lightweight champion.”
The winner of the Alvarez vs. Aoki matchup will join WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko as the organization’s second-ever undisputed champion. Emelianenko is scheduled to defend his title against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski during Affliction’s “Day of Reckoning” event on January 24 in Anaheim, California.