In 2021, mixed martial arts icon Demetrious Johnson suffered the first knockout loss of his illustrious career at the hands of ONE flyweight world champion Adriano Moraes. Now nearly 18 months later, he gets his chance at redemption when ONE Championship makes its debut on Prime Video on Friday, Aug. 26.
Having spent time inside the Circle with Moraes, Johnson understands what it will take to dethrone the longtime divisional king. But it’s not as much about focusing on adjusting X and Y for the American veteran as it is about being able to adapt to whatever happens when the bell rings.
“The kind of the small details do matter, but then again, it’s just another fight,” Johnson explained. “It’s a brand new fight, right? You know, the feeling out process can be a little bit different. I think the biggest thing is Adriano is just much bigger, longer. So that’s the biggest problem, which is just crossing the distance.”
Managing the space between him and his rival has Johnson evaluating his approach for this matchup.
Although the Washington native still wants to put Moraes under pressure, he understands that he needs to be more mindful in his approach in order to implement his game plan inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
But “Mighty Mouse” is adamant that being more methodical won’t mean less action.
“If you look back and look at his fights against Yuya Wakamatsu, Kairat Akhmetov, Geje Eustaquio, I mean, all his fights that we watched, the guys try to be methodical, and the fight ends up being a little boring,” said Johnson. “So, no offense to any of the fighters that have ever really gone out there and tried to go for the biscuit, right? It’s almost kind of like, tit for tat.
“So for me, I can go out there and try to just keep tit for tat; try to win; play it easy. But it’s just not my style. It’s not how I train. That was kind of the game plan with Rodtang; be methodical, try to draw out that right hand, and try never to exchange with him. But in the fight, it just happened, you know what I mean, so we’ll see what happens.”
A new piece to Johnson’s puzzle has been a slight change in preparation.
The top-ranked flyweight contender has added a new Brazilian jiu-jitsu regimen to his schedule after finding a gym near his home. With Moraes’ incredible skills on the ground, Johnson understood that he needed to bring a new element to his grappling.
Under the tutelage of Yan McCane, Johnson feels that he will be better prepared to stymie the Brazilian’s ground control. He feels it is a return to the pursuit of knowledge that led him to become the greatest to ever compete in the sport.
“I went and signed up at Professor Yan’s place, Grapple Club, and they’re working towards my black belt, and I’m just soaking up knowledge,” Johnson said. “Now, how does this play into the fight with Adriano? Well, obviously, Adriano is a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. My grappling conditioning has got significantly better because I’m being more efficient in what I actually do, which is fighting instead of going to the gym or lifting, you know.
“So now I’ll put in more hours into training mixed martial arts than I was in my previous fights because I’m actually going to a separate gym and getting instructions where it’s like, ‘hey, today, we’re going to deep half, how are we fixing a deep half?’ You know, it’s like, instruction.
“And that’s how it was when I started mixed martial arts back in the day, that’s what I think made me successful, what gave me the name of people calling me the GOAT is like, I actually try to put myself in that one element of mixed martial arts and training and learning.”
With all the preparation, both mentally and physically, Johnson has had a lot of time to think about the outcome of his upcoming title tussle. Even still, he still can’t call how this one will end.
What he does know, however, is that he’s ready to force Moraes into a high-paced battle for the belt.
“I know he’s prepared,” Johnson said. “I’m prepared. And I’ll go out there, fight my ass off, and see where it goes. You know, it can go from me winning by decision, it can go with me winning by submission. I think a knockout would be the very least likely because I’m predicting that he’s going to be on his bicycle, running, right? He’s going to try to make me overextend and try to catch me.
“Now, am I going to be the person that just goes and pushes the pace? Probably 100-percent likely. Or maybe he’s going to stand and bang, and I catch him, and we fight it out.”
ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II airs live on Prime Video on Friday, Aug. 26, at 9 p.m. ET.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.