ONE Championship’s U.S. debut was a massive success – thanks in part to Demetrious Johnson. The American star headlined the star-studded card at ONE Fight Night 10 in a ONE Flyweight World Championship trilogy bout against former titleholder Adriano Moraes.
“Mighty Mouse” sewed up the series with a unanimous decision win to successfully defend his strap, and he reflected on his latest promotional performance after the event, which is available for free replay on Prime Video.
“I feel good, I was grateful to get the W. I really wanted a finish, you know I trained extremely hard to finish in training camp that’s why I push myself so hard is to look for that finish,” Johnson said.
“So, I’m happy with my performance, I beat him up a lot in the clinch and I was hurting him a lot and he did a good job of like holding. Herb Dean did a good job of breaking us up, but at the same time I was ‘Herb like I’m breaking the body up, give me my opportunity to get his hands down.’”
“And I tried to go airborne and hit him with the knee to the chin and I was shocked, and I thought that I would knock him out but when I watched the replay I hit him in the throat. I was like ‘damn it.’”
The matchup proved to be a tactical battle, fought in tight quarters inside the clinch. That was just fine for Johnson, who controlled the action and battered Moraes’ body.
That said, the MMA legend did take note of Moraes’ improvements, and he sees them as the reason why he a finish never came to fruition in the much-anticipated brawl.
“I love the clinch game, I live there. You know I train with the best, the wizard, he has a nasty clinch and we like to live there. I prefer to be in the clinch because I don’t have to play with windows of opportunity. If I step this way he throws a hook I run into it,” Johnson explained.
“When we’re trying to disengage I was trying to land an elbow and I hit him with a right hand when he ducked his head out but like I said I think he was more durable, more not overextending himself because when I hit him the second fight, he threw the left hook and then I ducked down and I hit him. So he over extended, his body wasn’t in the right position to reciprocate the energy, that’s why he got knocked out the second time.”
Naturally, after a win, the conversation switches to what comes next for “Mighty Mouse.” In the immediate aftermath, #2-ranked flyweight contender Kairat Akhmetov entered the Circle for a staredown with the reigning king. And at the post-event press conference, Johnson seemed intrigued by the prospect of defending his title again.
But the 36-year-old veteran was also adamant that he was in no rush to decide his future, and he shed some light on why retirement became a topic of discussion ahead of his main event tussle with Moraes.
“I’m going to go on a rant real quick. the reason I had these feelings, week 4, week 5 was probably the hardest time in all my training camp,” Johnson confessed.
“Back in the day, when I would fight in my world title fights, I remember when I was getting ready to fight Wilson Reis I would have nightmares that Wilson Reis would get my back. Like I’d be like, ‘Oh he’s going to get my back.’”
“I didn’t have nightmares when I was getting ready to fight Adriano, I was having nightmares about what I’m going to do after I’m done fighting. And so I like to listen to my feelings and try to understand why I’m having nightmares about what am I going to do after fighting when I don’t have an opportunity to train for.”
If this is the end, Johnson should be well satisfied with his career. The 14-time MMA World Champion has accomplished the highest of highs and established an enduring legacy as one of the all-time greats.
And making his ONE Fight Night 10 performance even more special was the fact that his children were able to be there live to take it all in.
“The reception was amazing. To see my kids, it was funny because everyone was like, ‘Oh man when you see your kids, you know outside the cage, you’re just gonna get nervous’ I was like, ‘No.’ I was like I’ve been doing this for a long time so when I got on the cage and I turned I saw Maverick and Tyron I was like, ‘Hey what’s up guys, hey hey what’s happening boys,’” Johnson said.
“It felt really good you know because I never thought in my lifetime that I’ll still be competing at this age and be able to look outside the cage and see my kids. So that’s, I’ll remember to my heart.”
“I love ONE Championship, I love the home of martial arts. I love being surrounded by so many great athletes with different disciplines right? Just to hear the different dialect, you know, be around the best Muay Thai athletes in the world, the best kickboxers around the world, even the best submission grapplers around the world. The Ruotolo brothers, Mikey Musumeci, I’m just truly grateful.”