The UFC is returning to the “City of Brotherly Love” maybe just a little too late for one of its former champions.
The promotion Tuesday announced UFC on ESPN 2 for March 30 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The main card airs on ESPN, likely following prelims streamed on ESPN+.
The event will be the UFC’s first in Philly since UFC 133 in August 2011. UFC 101 also took place there two years prior. But for the Philadelphia-born Eddie Alvarez, the timing isn’t good at all.
Alvarez (29-6) almost certainly would have relished the opportunity to fight in front of his home fans for the first time since Bellator 33 in October 2010. At that event, when he was Bellator’s lightweight champion, he stopped Roger Huerta with a TKO after 10 minutes in a non-title fight.
Once Alvarez was in the UFC, the UFC did a couple shows across the state in Pittsburgh, and was nearby in New York and New Jersey, but never back in Philly – until Alvarez left as a free agent for ONE Championship this past fall.
And wouldn’t ya know it … Alvarez’s ONE Championship debut is the same weekend as UFC on ESPN 2. The gods of MMA irony are fickle.
Alvarez takes on Timofey Nastyukhin at “ONE Championship: A New Era” in Tokyo on March 31. In the States, his fight will take place only a matter of hours after UFC on ESPN 2 wraps up. The event starts at 4 p.m. Tokyo time, which will be 3 a.m. Eastern time after UFC on ESPN 2.
But the former UFC lightweight champion threw a little shade the UFC’s way on Twitter, even though fans clearly will be able to watch both events if they want.
“Unfortunately @ufc Philadelphia will be tuned into @ONEChampionship that week to watch me work to claim another title,” Alvarez posted. “The timing of this venue and date is incredible. As a kid I wanted the UFC belt, now I want all of them. One more shelf to fill #UGking #phillyfighter #thnq.”
Alvarez isn’t the only one a little miffed by the timing of the return to the land of cheesesteaks and Rocky Balboa.
Fellow Philly native Paul Felder (15-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) takes on James Vick (13-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 1 on Feb. 17 in Phoenix. Barring a super-quick finish for Felder in that fight with no injuries, a turnaround time of less than six weeks is not impossible.
But Felder said he won’t entertain that idea and instead will be focusing on Vick.
“The @ufc IS going to philly. And I will be there,” Felder posted on Instagram. “But I have a huge challenge ahead of me in Phoenix with James Vick. This is my job and I don’t care where I fight or who. There will be no quick turn around or thoughts of fighting a month later. I plan to do my job on February 17th and then enjoy the event in my home city of #philadelphia. I will fight at home again someday. But you better make some noise Philly!!!”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Eddie Alvarez, Paul Felder offer two different takes on UFC's return to Philadelphia