ONE Championship returns to U.S. primetime with ONE 161: Moraes vs. Johnson II on Friday, Aug. 26, and the ONE flyweight world championship will be on the line in the evening’s headliner.
The last time flyweight king Adriano Moraes and mixed martial arts GOAT Demetrious Johnson shared the ONE Circle, the Brazilian superstar stunned the combat sports world by becoming the first athlete to finish “Mighty Mouse.” The win validated Moraes’s position at the top of ONE’s stacked flyweight division, and it serves as the crowning achievement of his career thus far.
Now, over a year later, Mighty Mouse has a chance for redemption, and the MMA legend has zeroed in on the mistakes he made in their first battle.
“I know I have to be patient,” Johnson told ONE. “Before I fought him, I watched his fights, and I thought, ‘Okay, he never really engages.’ He’s always used his movement or whatnot. And then fighting him, I realized he really didn’t engage, because I was chasing him the whole time.
“Then watching him against Yuya Wakamatsu, he didn’t really engage. So, this time, I just got to be on my Ps and Qs and just be more mindful of not overcommitting.”
Johnson has done his research and is making adjustments, but that isn’t the only thing he is focused on ahead of the World Title rematch. Going up against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu standout like Moraes has pushed the American star to train in that area even more, and he feels confident about the preparation he is putting in.
“Training is going great,” said Johnson. “I already feel like I’m in great shape. I will say the biggest thing is because I joined a jiu-jitsu school. And now, I’m training pure jiu-jitsu. Usually, when I’m not in fight camp, the gym that I train at is so far away – it’s basically an hour and 15 minutes away.
“I found a legit jiu-jitsu gym under a new professor, Yan McCane – a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt for 10 years. [He’s an] absolute monster – very knowledgeable. Now, I’ve been doing a lot more jiu-jitsu because it’s eight minutes from my house, and a gold mine for me, because it, kind of, breathes life back into my development.
“It’s another tough one. He’s a great athlete. He always comes prepared. He’s always in great condition. And then on that day, I’m just going to go out there and fight and see.”
The loss to Moraes has taken some of the weight off of Johnson’s shoulders. The MMA icon has long been compared to the best fighters in history, which adds pressure to every fight. But, now, Mighty Mouse gets to enter his upcoming rematch with Moraes as the underdog. Meaning, he’ll be able to enjoy his return to the Circle without the public automatically expecting him to walk away with the win.
That said, the importance of winning the world title fight hasn’t been forgotten.
“I mean, at the end of the day, I have nothing to lose,” Johnson said. “I’ve just lost, damn it. We’ve both proven so much in the sport of mixed martial arts. For me, my challenge is I haven’t beat him yet. So, I have a challenge in front of me. I have to go prove I can beat this man.
“As I said, I’m working my ground game, working on my stand-up. I’m making sure when I step in the Circle on Aug. 26 in Singapore, I’m the best version of myself. That’s what I’m always striving for. I’m always striving for perfection, and I just hope that I go out there and execute, and not make any mistakes. Every fight that I fight, from here on out, is always going to be my biggest fight, whether it’s for a world title or not.”
ONE 161: Moraes vs. Johnson II has all the makings of one of the year’s best title tilts. The event airs in U.S. primetime on Friday, Aug. 26.
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