One cannot talk about MMA's mount Rushmore of great fighters without including Demetrious Johnson. No other world champion, past or present, has ever heard the words "and still" next to his name more than 'Mighty Mouse'.
With his legendary UFC title run spanning 2012 to 2016, 'DJ' set the record for most consecutive title defenses at 11; a record that will most likely never be surpassed. Though he arguably faced harder challenges when he moved to ONE Championship, Johnson still has a lot of potential to make one last world title run.
Debuting in ONE Championship back in 2019, Johnson looked promising as he won his first three bouts, albeit with many challenges, to win the ONE flyweight world Grand Prix title.
When 'Mighty Mouse' challenged for the world title against Adriano Moraes, however, he suffered his first career knockout loss. After his failed world title bid, 'Mighty Mouse' bounced back by submitting ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon in a mixed rules bout.
Now, at ONE on Prime Video 1, Johnson will face Adriano Moraes again to right the wrongs from the first bout and hopefully capture gold. A lot of critics, fighters and fans aren't giving 'DJ' any chance, considering how the first fight ended.
Some are citing ONE's heavier weight class or perhaps the knee to the ground that caused Johnson to lose, as he might not have been used to such a difference in rulesets. But make no mistake, Moraes was the superior fighter that night.
This doesn't mean, however, that Johnson won't have a chance to become the victor come August 26. Today we look at three good reasons why Demetrious Johnson will claim the belt at ONE on Prime Video 1.
#3. Demetrious Johnson generally does well in rematches
One of the things that makes Johnson such a difficult opponent is his ability to read tendencies, timings and gameplans on the fly. He works like a computer collecting data. The longer you fight him, the more he'll figure you out.
That being said, a rematch with him could mean that he's already collected significant data to beat you in the next fight. Of the five rematches in his career, Johnson came out much better than the first fight, with the exception of his second bout with Henry Cejudo, which he lost via split decision.
But even the loss to Cejudo was highly debated, with half of all media outlets who saw the fight favoring Johnson. With his rematch with Moraes being the third round between him and the world champion, be sure that Demetrious Johnson will come prepared.
#2. Demetrious Johnson has nothing left to prove
This might sound like the exact opposite of what this list is all about, but hear us out. Demetrious Johnson, in his 15-year career so far, has seen it all and done it all. He's accomplished feats that his fellow world champions can only dream of. The records he set may never be broken.
At this point in his fighter journey, DJ has absolutely nothing left to prove. His legacy has long been cemented already. This might be the very reason why he will win on August 26. There may no longer be any pressure to be the best simply because he has been the best. 'Mighty Mouse' might just be doing this for fun now.
"For me to step out of the bubble, just shows I’m not scared to do art forms and fight guys in their world. After this fight if it goes well, and I’m able to beat Rodtang, I could do a kickboxing fight, if the matchmakers allow me to do it, perfect."
'Mighty Mouse' further expounded:
“Now, do I want to fight for a world title in kickboxing? No, I’m not a world-class kickboxer but it would be fun to dabble in it. Like what I’m doing right now.”
"Fun" is a highly operative word there. Perhaps Johnson is no longer bogged down by winning or losing anymore. He just wants to enjoy himself and put on a show. In psychology, experts call this being "outcome independent". When a competitor is not pressured to win or lose, he can be unpredictable as he might try things out of left field. This also makes him highly dangerous.
#1. Demetrious Johnson doesn't look like he's over-the-hill just yet
At 36 years old, Demetrious Johnson is no longer considered a "young man" in the sport. He does, however, still look and move like one. In all his fights in ONE Championship, Johnson looked sharp, athletic and tenacious, despite the heavier weight class and different ruleset.
Demetrious Johnson's fighting skills will not be in question come ONE on Prime Video 1. It's only going to boil down to preparation and gameplan. In most world title rematches in history, the onus has been on the loser of the first fight to adjust and do things differently.
Being the legendary world champion that he is, we are sure that Demetrious Johnson will be primed and ready to take the belt on August 26.