All roads lead to an epic world title showdown between ONE flyweight world champion Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson and former divisional king Kairat Akhmetov.
‘The Kazakh’, who currently ranks No.2 in the ONE flyweight rankings behind Adriano Moraes, strongly believes he deserves to be next in line for the newly minted world champion.
Speaking to ONE Championship, Akhmetov admitted that he had Johnson in his sights the moment the American joined the world’s largest martial arts organization back in 2018.
Kairat Akhmetov said:
“I have always looked up to Johnson. When I first started fighting in this sport, I was already watching him. When ‘Mighty Mouse’ signed a contract with ONE, I immediately let it be known that I could meet him with dignity in the ring. Many years have passed, and I think our time has come.”
To be fair, a clash between Akhmetov and Johnson feels like a long time coming. It’s surprising how the pair of sensational flyweights have yet to cross paths inside the circle.
Around the time Johnson was dominating in North America, Kairat Akhmetov established himself as one of the best 135-pound fighters in Asia by going unbeaten in his first 23 professional bouts.
The Arlan MMA Pro and Tiger Muay Thai representative made a rousing debut at ONE: Dynasty of Champions in 2015, when he edged Moraes via split decision to claim the flyweight world title.
Akhmetov lost the belt in the rematch and had to work his way back into contention after a setback with another former titleholder in Geje Eustaquio.
After racking up five straight wins, including a dominant victory over Tatsumitsu Wada in his last outing, ‘The Kazakh’ is now on a mission to reclaim his lost gold.
The fact that he has to go through Johnson to get it back is just icing on the cake.
Kairat Akhmetov likes his chances against the world champion
Following Kairat Akhmetov’s impressive winning streak, most pundits thought the 34-year-old Kazakhstani earned his shot at a grudge match against Adriano Moraes.
The promotion, however, went the other way and booked the rematch of Moraes vs. Johnson at ONE on Prime Video 1.
As expected, Akhmetov tuned in closely knowing he would most likely face the victor.
‘Mighty Mouse’ looked tremendous in the rematch and won the belt in spectacular fashion against ‘Mikinho’.
While Johnson appears once again at the height of his prowess, Akhmetov doesn’t seem fazed one bit. The former world champion thinks his elite wrestling and improved striking will cause problems for anyone.
“I have a chance. This is MMA where one punch can decide the outcome of a fight. I believe in myself and in my victory. This is my dream fight, and I don’t want to miss the chance to make myself known to the whole world.”