When ONE Championship celebrates its 10-year anniversary with ONE X, one of the evening’s most highly anticipated matches will be the mixed rules super-fight between ONE flyweight Muay Thai champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. The two warriors will test their skills against each other on Saturday, Mar. 26, with a special four-round matchup that will alternate between ONE Super Series Muay Thai and mixed martial arts rules sets.
The superfight will begin with Muay Thai for the first three minutes, and any fan expecting Mighty Mouse to stand and bang with one of the most sensational strikers in the business will likely be disappointed.
“You know, anybody who stood in front of Rodtang has always lost,” said Johnson. “I am not a Muay Thai fighter. I’m going to use my footwork. I’m not going to sit there doing Rock’ Em Sock’ Em Robots. I’m a mixed martial artist, and we don’t stand in front. I’ve never done it with any other fighter in the world. Would Bruce Lee stand in front of Rodtang? Probably not.”
For Johnson, one of the most compelling aspects of the matchup is the three-minute rounds. As a mixed martial artist, he’s used to five minutes for each round, so the time restriction will force him to expedite his offense.
“Because, you know, if you look at my career, I am an athlete that builds upon round on round on round, right?” explained Johnson. “I mean, the list just goes on where my relentless pressure, my relentless takedowns, the striking and the clinching, and the wrestling, and submission attempts pay dividends over time to where this fight, it’s not even the same duration of a normal mixed martial arts fight.
“I get six minutes of mixed martial arts to six minutes of Muay Thai. It’s two rounds and a half of fighting for mixed martial arts. That’s the hardest thing we have for this fight when I try to break it down. It’s that it’s going to be a different strategic approach to the fight, where once those three minutes come, do I go out there in reckless abandon? It’s not my style. I’ve never been in a type of reckless-abandon fighter where I just go out there, and, ‘oh my god, I need this takedown, I need this takedown,’ you know? I don’t know, maybe I do. Like, I have no idea. So I’m going in here cool, calm, collected, like a chill pickle. See what happens.”
But just being a part of the spectacle is a joy for the Washington resident. Johnson lauded ONE’s decision to promote every aspect of martial arts. ONE X will feature mixed martial arts, grappling, kickboxing, and Muay Thai during its massive tenth-anniversary showcase.
The longtime pound-for-pound great is embracing the moment. Still, he knows there is a very real possibility that the world’s best flyweight striker could shut off his lights in the first round.
“It’s very possible,” said the ONE flyweight grand prix champion. “I mean, the man hits like a truck. And we’ll see, you know. I’m going to use all my skill set: my clinch work, my footwork, everything to compete in the first round. Do you know what I mean? My greatest asset is being able to mix up the fight. And for me to be disabled in the first round, it’s a hindrance to me. I believe in my skill set, I believe in my training, and we’ll do our best to make it out of that first round.
“That’s where I feel like I got my title of people calling me one of the greatest of all time with my consecutive 11-title defenses, 12 world championships. All that stuff came from me being dynamic. Going back and forth with the ruleset is what made me one of the best fighters in the world. And to this day, [the reason why] people would regard me as one of the best fighters in the world, is my ability to mix it up.”
Johnson plans to use his speed and movement to survive the first three minutes and put those skills to use in the second. The American mixed martial artist foresees a submission win or both men surviving to a draw.
The meeting of two living legends will be one of the marquee bouts on Mar. 26. It’s a unique matchup that is sure to be one of 2022’s brightest highlights. ONE X is set to deliver the goods, and Johnson is ready to represent his sport and take home the victory.
ONE X airs live in its entirety on the ONE Championship website on Saturday, Mar. 26, beginning with ONE X: Part I at 1 a.m. ET, followed by ONE X: Part II begins at 5 a.m. ET. The action then moves to ONE Championship’s pay-per-view at 8 a.m. ET for the ONE X: Grand Finale.
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