The KO was shocking not only because of the fact that 'DJ' has never KO'd before, but also because Moraes wasn't known for his striking power. Somehow, 'Mikinho' did the unthinkable and slept the man most considered the greatest of all time.
Since his monumental upset victory against 'DJ', Adriano Moraes has made a successful title defense against Yuya Wakamatsu at ONE X. In front of a sold-out stadium in the biggest martial arts event of all time, 'Mikinho' submitted the Japanese dynamo via guillotine choke.
On the same night, Demetrious Johnson made history by defeating ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon in a mixed rules bout that awed the entire crowd.
More than a year after they first locked horns, Moraes and Johnson will run it back in ONE's first-ever live event to be broadcast in US prime time. Today, we'll study the diverse and dangerous MMA arsenal of 'Mikinho' and see how he'll fare against 'DJ' in their rematch.
Let's look at Adriano Moraes' three best weapons inside the circle.
#3. Adriano Moraes' constant movement
Moraes' constant movement, feinting and footwork is like a cross between Dominick Cruz and Frankie Edgar. It's hard to get a read on what 'Mikinho' will do next as he perpertually moving. It's also hard to corner or time him because of this.
This was, in large part, how he was so successful against Johnson in their first fight. 'DJ' is best known for his legendary movement and perhaps didn't expect Moraes to match him in that department.
'Mighty Mouse' couldn't get a solid rhythm going as Moraes would always jar him with his constant zig-zagging around.
Against Wakamatsu, Moraes did the same thing and nullified the Japanese fighter's nuclear right hand. 'Little Piranha' couldn't find an opportunity to land a clean blow as Moraes would constantly give him different looks throughout the fight.
We can also credit Adriano Moraes' supreme conditioning for being able to keep his high-paced movement from round one to five.
#2. Adriano Moraes' underrated knockout power
This is perhaps the most underrated aspect of Moraes' game, given that the last time he knocked someone out before 'DJ' was in 2013 in his home country of Brazil. Most people sleep on Adriano Moraes' power only because he doesn't always use it.
'Mikinho' masks it well, too. He uses his footwork and movement to pepper his opponents until they get frustrated and carelessly get inside the pocket. Once in range, Moraes throws with full power. This is what he did with Johnson in their first fight.
The ONE flyweight world champion's short right hand connected cleanly to Johnson's jaw while they were in the midst of a wild exchange. The unexpected angle of the punch plus the power behind it sent 'DJ' crashing to the canvas. From there, the knee-to-face was academic and the MMA legend went to sleep.
Look to see the American fighter be wary of Moraes' striking power in their rematch, now that he's tasted it.
#1. Adriano Moraes' debilitating Jiu-jitsu
This is the most dangerous weapon in Adriano Moraes' arsenal. His blackbelt-level grappling is too much to handle even for seasoned grapplers. Against Johnson and a lot of other fighters, Moraes' trademark top pressure looks like it weighs a thousand pounds.
When Moraes was on top of Demetrious Johnson's guard in their first fight, the American MMA legend found zero chance to shrug the Brazilian off. Moraes' top pressure allows very little space for his opponents to wiggle out as he makes it tight and highly technical.
When it comes to submissions, once 'Mikinho' gets a hold of either your neck or one of your limbs, it won't be good for your health. The Brazilian world champion possesses an otherworldly squeeze.
In his fight with Wakamatsu, Moraes locked in a guillotine choke after the Japanese fighter tried to take him down. The choke wasn't fully in yet but Moraes adjusted the grip without losing it. Soon after that, Wakamatsu tapped out.
Once again, credit Moraes' conditioning as he was able to pull off the submission late in the third round. The guillotine choke is mostly considered a strong-man choke, as it requires a tight squeeze to get the finish. 'Mikinho', despite being almost 15 minutes into the fight, still had a lot left in the tank to squeeze the life out of his Japanese foe.