Consider it an early Christmas present.
Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki, two of the world’s top four lightweights, may fight one another at K-1 “Premium 2008 Dynamite” on Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Monte Cox, who manages Alvarez, confirmed the news to Sherdog.com on Monday.
Sherdog.com initially reported that both camps had verbally agreed to the fight, but Tuesday afternoon Cox clarified that the fight is in the works but not a done deal.
Alvarez (15-1) and Aoki were on track to meet in the final of the Dream lightweight grand prix in July, but the American was unable to continue in the tournament after his grueling semifinal victory over Tatsuya Kawajiri. Aoki, meanwhile, went on to lose to alternate Joachim Hansen, the man Alvarez defeated in the quarterfinals.
A budding superstar and former Bodog Fight welterweight champion, Alvarez has made quite an impact since moving down in weight. Based out of Philadelphia’s Fight Factory, the 24-year-old has rattled off five straight wins since suffering the only defeat of his career -- a technical knockout loss to Nick Thompson in April 2007. Knockout victories over Brazilian Andre Amade and UFC veterans Aaron Riley and Derrick Noble anchor his impressive resume.
Alvarez, who married in September, still plans to compete at an Extreme Challenge show next month in Atlantic City, N.J. No opponent has been named.
One of the world’s premier submission grapplers, Aoki (18-3) last competed in September, when he submitted World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Todd Moore in 70 seconds at Dream 6. More than half (10) of the 25-year-old’s 18 career wins have come by submission. Seasoned by the Pride, Shooto and Deep promotions, Aoki holds notable victories against American Top Team ace Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante, Akira Kikuchi (twice) and Clay French. His loss to Hansen -- whom he also owns a win against -- in July ended a 13-fight unbeaten streak.
The Alvarez-Aoki showdown provides more star power for the traditional end-of-the-year K-1 show, which also includes a non-title lightweight fight pairing Hansen with Cavalcante and a long-awaited matchup between Kazushi Sakuraba and Kiyoshi Tamura. In addition, Dream middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and Kawajiri will be in action in separate bouts held under K-1 rules.
This article was updated at 2:49 EST to clarify that Aoki-Alvarez is in the works but not a done deal.