After nearly 18 months of inactivity, Demetrius Johnson is ready to return to work and add another championship belt to his already impressive collection.
Johnson is set to challenge Adriano Moraes for the ONE Flyweight Championship on April 7th at the ONE Main Event on TNT 1. This will be the first live promotion event and Johnson’s first fight since defeating Danny by decision in October 2019. Kingad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The opportunity to compete again after months of waiting, as well as the opportunity to win a historic map for ONE, thrilled Johnson a lot.
“Absolutely, [this is big] especially the ability to serve an American audience, ”Johnson said MMA Fighting, appearing on What the heck… “I know that many people are used to the fact that I fight on [ONE’s] own time zone, with very early morning. So with that – ONE Championship and TNT team up and collaborate – and getting a live title shot will be phenomenal.
“It’s nice that everything is gradually returning to normal. ONE has had many battle cards in Singapore and their government has worked phenomenally with the ONE Championship and athletes and we are doing our best to follow all protocols. I’m just glad that everything is gradually returning to normal. “
After a record reign as UFC Flyweight Champion – which ended in a split decision defeat to Henry Sejudo at UFC 227 – and signing with ONE, Johnson will be back in a five-round title fight. Mighty Mouse have advanced 3-0 in three rounds, which they have not done since their UFC victory on FX 2 over Ian McCall in June 2012.
“It was nice to go back to three-round fights. [for a little bit]… “15 minutes is literally a sprint for me because of so many title defenses,” Johnson said. “But I like the five-round fights a little more because it gives me time to adjust, to impose my will and my game plan and my fitness.”
Since the ONE flyweight is actually 135 pounds instead of 125 as in most other promotions, Johnson likes not to shed excess weight.
However, he admits that there was something a little tricky about overcoming weight loss to achieve victories, which was somewhat attractive from an athletic point of view. But as he gets older, he is happy to move into a healthier lifestyle.
“Guys at 135 are a little taller, but it’s nice and refreshing. [to not have to cut to 125]Johnson explained. “There’s a part of me where I didn’t mind cutting down to 135 because it was almost [challenge]; Can you dehydrate yourself and lead your body to a deficit, gain weight, and then bounce back to be able to work at a high level and at a high pace? I know I can do it. It’s almost like a game.
“But another part of me was like, ‘Dude, you’re 34 fucking years old.’ You don’t have to sit in the bathtub trying to cut to 125. Fuck it. “
Moraes was the champion for most of the ONE’s seven-year stretch. After losing the title to Jeja Eustakio by split decision in June 2018, Mikinho regained the belt by defeating Eustakio by unanimous decision.
As he prepares to face Moraes in his first title defense of the current race, Johnson is confident that he brings a lot that the current champion has never seen before.
“He had a great time,” Johnson said of Moraes. “I like the fight. It’s a good fight for me, it’s a very long, big, good grappler for my weight class, and I’ll just go out there, do what I do best, and just go out and fight.
“His fighting style is a little different. He is a great athlete for the division, a great athlete, he loves to lie on his back and fix this triangle of his body. I know that in the past when I fought Tatsumitsu Wada, another big athlete, he got a body triangle on me and it took me three minutes to get those long hind legs out of my body.
“So I want to go out and impose my will. I don’t think he ever fought an athlete like me. I think he fought well, athletes of the same discipline. With Kairat Akhmetov, he does a good job with wrestling and stance, and Geje Eustakio is good with punches, but I feel like the only thing I do better than both of these guys is to increase the tempo and combine very, very well. I’m not afraid. I had problems in some of my fights, I was defeated and I am not afraid to go there and fight. “
Johnson will be ready for a 25-minute fight if informed. In the end, he hopes to do what all fighters aspire to: win a memorable victory and get out of it as unharmed as possible.
“I plan to go there and blow up bricks. [of him], put on a great game and come out healthy, ”Johnson said. “The most important thing for me is to get out healthy. I used to go to war and get beaten up, so I have to ask myself, “Why the hell am I doing this? I am in pain and I cannot do this and that. ”
“This is my biggest thing, I want to come out healthy. Sit down and come out. “