He is set to welcome American superstar Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson to the world’s largest martial arts organization in a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarter-final bout on Sunday, 31 March in Tokyo, Japan.
Johnson is a 12-time flyweight mixed martial arts World Champion and widely considered the best pound-for-pound martial artist on the planet.
That does not intimidate the Japanese knockout artist, however. Although Wakamatsu is impressed by his rival’s accomplishments, he plans to shock the world when they meet inside the cage.
“I think becoming World Champion 12 times is amazing,” the 24-year-old says. “But I’m not afraid of him. He is also a human. If my punch hits him, I can KO him.”
When Johnson joined The Home Of Martial Arts in late 2018, it sent shockwaves around the world, given the AMC Pankration representative’s dominance in his North American homeland.
Every athlete in ONE Championship’s flyweight division sought the chance to be the first person to test their skills against him. Fortunately for “Little Piranha,” he was the one who received the nod.
Wakamatsu feels like it is destiny, as his bout with the legend will take place at the promotion’s inaugural event in his home nation, where thousands of his compatriots inside the Ryogoku Kokugikan will be cheering him on to victory.
“This match will be in Japan, so I think it’s made for me,” he says.
“It is a big chance for a guy like me who doesn’t have any belts, because I was a carpenter in Kagoshima until very recently. If a guy like me who used to work a normal job wins against a World Champion, I think I will be a superstar.”
Johnson’s reputation may precede him, but the great thing about mixed martial arts is that the potential outcomes are limitless in the heat of the battle.
Although the Tribe Tokyo MMA product may not match his opponent’s achievements, Wakamatsu possesses immense knockout power that can stop any flyweight in his tracks.
He has a 90 percent knockout rate, and when it only takes a split second to end a contest, victory is never more than one strike away.
“I have confidence that I can beat him if my punch hits him,” the Japanese athlete offers.
“I think nobody thinks I can win. People say that I can win to be polite. I know other Asian athletes are thinking, ‘Why Wakamatsu?’ But I think I can make something happen. I will certainly win.”
Johnson will be fully prepared for “Little Piranha” when they meet later this month.
The American is renowned for his cerebral approach, and he will have extensively researched Wakamatsu’s threat in the striking department.
However, the Tokyo native has also been studying “Mighty Mouse” and honing his ground skills. Not only does he want to throw leather with Johnson, but he also wants to push him in every area of the game.
“People who watch my videos may think I can’t do grappling,” Wakamatsu states.
“I can do grappling. I just don’t use it in a match. Even if I have to go underneath, I can finish from there, or stand back up quickly. Please look forward to seeing it.”
Wakamatsu has a tremendous amount of respect for his 32-year-old adversary — he even grew up watching him compete. But now, it is about cementing his own legacy and proving that he belongs with the world’s best martial artists.
If he can pass through the quarter-final stage of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix against an athlete of Johnson’s caliber, then “Little Piranha” would instantly become a favorite to challenge for the ONE Flyweight World Title in the near future.
“It’s my honor to fight with Johnson one-on-one in the cage,” he says.
“This is the biggest chance of my life. I just need to do my best against Johnson in Japan. I think this is fate. A miracle can happen. I can prove to the world that MMA in Japan is strong.”