Alvarez ready for fight; McHugh, Dawejko shine bright

Ally McHugh placed sixth in the 400-meter individual medley on Sunday morning at a time of 4:38.34 in the Nambu International Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea.

Two down, one to go.

Last weekend was a great one for Tacony boxer Joey Dawejko and Little Flower High School graduate Ally McHugh, who swam at the 2019 FINA World Championship. But things are just heating up for Eddie Alvarez, the North Catholic MMA fighter who will compete in his second fight in ONE Championship.

Eddie Alveraz hopes he can get his first win in his second ONE Championship fight. TIMES FILE PHOTO

For Alvarez, a Kensington native who now lives in Southampton, it’s a chance at redemption after dropping his first fight with the promotion since leaving UFC, where he won the lightweight championship.

The former All-Catholic wrestler, who comes into the fight at 29-7, will battle Eduard Folayang in a top fight on Friday at a card that will be televised on TNT beginning at 1 a.m. The fights will take place in the Philippines.

In his first fight in ONE, Alvarez was stopped in the first round by Timofey Nastyukhin in the grand prix tournament. But Alvarez was reinserted into the tournament because Nastyukhin suffered an injury and was forced to be pulled from the tournament.

“I felt that it was ironic that I was back in the grand prix because this happened to me back in 2006, where I was disqualified and then an alternate was brought in and he won the whole tournament,” Alvarez said. “I am excited to be back in the tournament and showcase my talents.

“I feel that grand prixes are not always about the best fighter, but the fighter who can endure the most. Be the most intelligent in his training and strategical approach to the tournament structure.”

This isn’t the first time in his career Alvarez came into his second fight with something to prove. The last time worked out pretty well for the former Falcon football player.

The former Bellator lightweight champion dropped a decision to Donald Cerrone in his first fight in UFC, then responded by going on a three-fight winning streak. He downed Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis via decision and then knocked out Rafael dos Anjos to win the UFC lightweight championship.

According to Alvarez, he isn’t worried about going on a two-fight losing streak. He’s ready to go out and do what he does best.

“I feel like the first fight was all the pressure,” Alvarez said. “After the first fight, all the pressure is off. The expectations are gone, and I can finally be myself in the octagon. When I am comfortable and relaxed, I put on my best performances.”

A win would be a stepping stone to bigger things. And that’s what he’s looking for on Friday morning.

“My goal is still the same as it always has been,” Alvarez said. “I am focused on the ONE Championship world title and beating the best guys in front of me.”

That’s exactly what Dawejko did this weekend.

Dawejko, a former Abraham Lincoln student, won a unanimous decision over Rodney Hernandez to improve to 20-7-4 in Arlington, Texas.

Dawejko bested Hernandez, whom he fought to a draw in 2017, by winning 98-92, 96-94, 96-94.

Hernandez took the fight after Dawejko’s original opponent, Murat Gassiev, pulled out after suffering an injury. That gave both Dawejko and Hernandez less than two weeks to prepare for the fight.

While Dawejko had little time to prepare for Hernandez, recent Penn State grad McHugh had prepared for Sunday’s race at nationals her entire life. And she came out a star.

McHugh, a Fox Chase resident, placed sixth in the 400-meter individual medley on Sunday morning at a time of 4:38.34 in the Nambu International Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea.

McHugh will now prepare for the Olympic Trials, which will be held next summer in Nebraska.

It’s been a great year for McHugh, who this year was named Penn State’s Female Athlete of the Year. She also won the Big Ten Medal of Honor, which recognizes academic and athletic excellence.

This year, she became the first swimmer in school history to win an NCAA individual championship by winning the 1,650 freestyle at the 2019 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.