Demetrious Johnson Is Having A Great Time Competing In Asia
Demetrious Johnson is coming off his second win in ONE Championship. The former UFC flyweight champion beat Tatsumitsu Wada earlier this month in Manila, at ONE: Dawn Of Heroes. The hard fought win earned ‘Mighty Mouse’ a spot in the final of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix final, where he will take on Team Lakay’s Danny Kingad.
And although the American is set to compete three times in one year for the first time since his early twenties, ‘DJ’ is loving life in his new promotion. Speaking on The Ariel Helwani Show on Monday, Johnson, who turns 33 today, was asked if he was happy competing in Asia.
“It’s awesome. I’m having a great time. I’m super active, I’ve got a fight October 13th. The travelling is fun. I’ve been enjoying myself.”
Asked whether he feels more appreciated in Asia, Johnson said the difference between his experience competing in the East and competing in the West, is ‘night and day’.
“Oh dude, the fan base over there is really night and day. The event in Manila was…the production value, the ring, the walkout, the cheers, it was amazing. I’ll tell you right now, the flyweight division over there, the Asian culture, they love it. It’s night and day, I’m not going to lie.”
Although many people’s GOAT has won his first two bouts in ONE Championship, they were both far from easy. But Johnson said he knew it wasn’t going to be easy competing against the best athletes ONE has to offer.
“I knew I was going to have tougher fights because, it’s no joke, every single person I have fought has been a champion in some form, in a big organisation in Japan. Tatsumitsu Wada was a three time DEEP champion. All the guys I fought in the UFC, they were probably never champions inside big organisations, outside of the UFC, or had never been a champion.
“When I fought Yuya Wakamatsu, he was a tournament champion, so he won the [Pancrase] Flyweight Tournament Championship. So these guys have been in battles. They’ve won, they’ve lost. They’ve fought the best of the best. Now for me, I’ve got to get used to fighting these guys. They’re just a bit more seasoned, they understand what’s going [on]. The two guys I just fought, I fought Wakamatsu and Wada, they felt seasoned, they felt like they knew what they were doing.”
Johnson’s long term coach Matt Hume, is also a senior vice-president and match maker at ONE Championship. When asked about whether there is a conflict of interest there, Johnson was quick to shut down any such suggestion.
“At the end of the day, he can’t fight for me. He can’t get in the ring or cage and fight for me. So if I was to become the world champion, or win this tournament, we have some killers in this tournament. You know we had Kairat Akhmetov on the other side. You had Wakamatsu, who just knocked out the former ONE flyweight world champion, Geje Eustaquio with one punch. Tatsumitsu Wada, three time DEEP champion, that was a tough fight.
“Someone said [to me], ‘you’re having tougher fights over here than you did in North America’ and I was like ‘yeah, you guys over here are legit, are tough, are good, are seasoned’. I didn’t expect anything less. I didn’t come here with a big head or think I was going to blow right through these guys. These guys are legit, a fight’s a fight. I think all the matchups I’m getting are tough and I’m doing the best I can to put these guys away.”
The final of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix between Demetrious Johnson and Danny Kingad, will go down on ONE Championship’s one hundredth show, ONE: Century, on October 13th in Tokyo, Japan.