At a press conference in Singapore on Wednesday to promote the upcoming ONE: Heart of the Lion event (which takes place this Friday), the organization announced that Johnson (27-3-1) and Alvarez (29-6, 1 NC), the star talents who recently made the move over to ONE from the UFC, will both be competing in eight-man grand prix tournaments in 2019.
As expected, Johnson, who put together one of the most dominant title reigns in MMA history at 125 pounds, will be competing at flyweight, while Alvarez, a 155-pound titleholder in Bellator and the UFC, will be competing at lightweight. The other participants in the tournaments were not named.
Both Johnson and Alvarez were at Wedneday’s presser, and both were given the opportunity to speak to those in attendance. Alvarez spoke highly of his time competing for Japan’s Dream promotion, where he burst onto the scene with wins over Joachim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri.
“It was in Asia where I begun and made a name for myself at a lightweight grand prix. And everything has come full circle,” Alvarez said, before saying a brief greeting in Japanese. “I can’t say how excited I am to be here with the ONE family. True martial artists. Integrity, honor, discipline, putting them things first. Where I’ve been, we sort of lost our way and it’s good to be back. I feel like I found my way again with the ONE family.”
When it was Johnson’s turn to speak, he praised ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong, saying “I’ve never seen a CEO speak so highly of his company and his athletes,” and also his longtime coach and ONE vice president of operations Matt Hume, who he described as a “father figure”.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to actually compete in Asia in a World Grand Prix, flyweight division,” Johnson said.
No date was announced yet for when Johnson and Alvarez will be making their ONE debuts.