Demetrious Johnson Is Proud He Earned Title Fight With Adriano Moraes
Although Demetrious Johnson is one of the greatest fighters the game has ever seen, ‘Mighty Mouse’ had to slug his way through the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix in order to secure a title shot. Is the former UFC champ upset about that fact? Not at all. In fact, Johnson’s proud he had to defeat three of ONE Championship’s best flyweights, before he secured a bout with the division’s champ, Adriano Moraes.
After moving to ONE Championship last year, as part of a swap that saw Ben Askren move to the UFC, Johnson was booked to compete in the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix. The 33-year-old fighter was not granted an immediate title shot, despite the fact he’s arguably the greatest flyweight of all time.
In the quarterfinals of the tourney, Johnson submitted Yuya Wakamatsu, and he went on to decision Tatsumitsu Wada and then Danny Kingad in the final at ONE: Century. As a result, the 33 year old is now set to challenge Moraes for the ONE flyweight crown.
Speaking to MMA Junkie ahead of the bout, Johnson opened up on going through the Grand Prix process to earn the title shot.
“I’ve always believed that’s how it should be. Obviously, I think there’s a pecking order, you know. There’s guys who’ve been in the division a lot longer than I have. So the way that ONE Championship wanted me to do it was to take all the best athletes in that division: Kairat Akmetov, Danny Kingad, Tatsumitsu Wada, Yuya Wakamatsu. So they took all the best athletes in that division and put them in to determine who’s going to get the next title shot.
“Obviously, I came out victorious, so earned me a title shot instead of if I were to run my gums and bump my gums, [that] could’ve earned me a shot. Or just the pedigree I came into the organisation with, how much I already accomplished could’ve warranted a title shot. But, you know, I’m not above working for a title shot. I proved myself, won three fights in a row, and I fought the No. 1 contender, Danny Kingad. He’s the only guy who’s, you know, lost to Adriano Moraes. And it’s great. Now I get a chance to fight for the world title.”
If you’ve followed Johnson over the years, then these comments shouldn’t surprise you. Johnson has forged a reputation for being humble, despite his incredible athletic abilities and skill set. Case in point, during the interview, Johnson also said he doesn’t see himself as any different, fighting as the challenger.
“I feel exactly the same. I don’t see myself as a challenger. I see myself as just another athlete trying compete and trying to win a fight and win a world title, you know. I mean, even when I was a champion in North America, I didn’t see myself as the, I don’t know … I don’t see people as the challengers or the champion. I just see two athletes going to compete. And that’s about it.”
With all that said, if Johnson does secure ONE Championship’s flyweight crown, it will be the latest in a long list of remarkable achievements for the American. While talking about what a victory over Moraes will mean to his legacy, ‘DJ’ acknowledged it will be another, defining piece.
“It’s going to be another notch on the belt. It’s going to be another notch in the accolades, all of the things I’ve done in my mixed martial arts career. My goal is just go down as one of the best to ever do it in my career. You know, 15, 20 years from now, people who jump in this sport of mixed martial arts, they’re going on YouTube to type in Demetrious Johnson, mighty whiz bar. That’s what it’s about for me, to leave a name and put on great fights.”
Johnson was scheduled to challenge Moraes at ONE: Infinity 1 in Jakarta on April 10th but the card has now been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus. It is not currently known which card the fight will be moved to but it is expected to be part of the ONE Infinity Series.
Do you think Demetrious Johnson needs to win ONE’s flyweight title to entrench his status as the greatest flyweight to date? Or does the star already hold the G.O.A.T. status for the division?