With 12 MMA World Titles, the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship belt, and a 30-4 career record, Demetrious Johnson is widely considered the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
The man known as “Mighty Mouse” – who will challenge Adriano Moraes in a ONE Flyweight World Title rematch at ONE 161 – used his dazzling skill set to dominate for years in North America before making the successful jump to Asia.
While Johnson came up short in his first matchup with Moraes, he’ll be looking for redemption in his second attempt – live in North American primetime on Friday, 26 August.
Ahead of this massive main event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, let’s break down the American superstar’s elite skill set and identify five assets that made him the MMA GOAT.
#1 Relentless Wrestling
Johnson started out wrestling as a youngster, and this skill has always formed the backbone of his MMA game.
The 35-year-old uses explosive double- and single-leg attacks, and when his opponents land on the canvas, they have an extremely hard time getting back up due to his heavy top pressure.
Moreover, even if his takedown attempt fails, “Mighty Mouse” is happy to drive his rival backward to the fence or disengage, reset, and wait for his next opportunity.
#2 Lightning-Fast Speed
Johnson’s insane quickness – combined with his high fight IQ that seemingly keeps him a step ahead of opponents – makes him very hard to deal with.
Whether it’s on the feet, in the clinch, or on the ground, the AMC Pankration man can usually beat his rival to the next move, be it a punch, takedown, or submission.
He uses that speed to land strikes and shoot for double-legs, but also to react defensively, meaning he rarely gets hit cleanly and has sharp takedown defense.
#3 Pinpoint Striking
Every bout starts on the feet, and though wrestling has always been his most dominant offensive tool, Johnson is a highly skilled striker – though you’ll rarely catch him going toe-to-toe.
He opts to hit and move, circling his rivals and using lots of feints to open up opportunities for punches and kicks from either stance.
However, he’s also showcased stopping power in the past, so opponents can’t rest on their laurels and think they can absorb all of his strikes.
In close, DJ utilizes a hurtful clinch game with heavy knees and elbows – another way of keeping up the pressure no matter what range the fight takes place in.
#4 Seamless Transitions
The true glory of Johnson’s game is his unique ability to blend the elements together without a hitch.
He possesses high-level skills in each area, but his opponents can’t just deal with them in isolation. Instead, they face a single chained phase of attack that can go from strikes to submissions and everything in between in the blink of an eye.
Whether DJ is punching his way into a double-leg takedown or suplexing his way into an armbar, he joins every part of his arsenal into a fluid whole – one that offers no respite for any man that stands across from him.
#5 Never-Ending Gas Tank
On top of his martial arts skills, “Mighty Mouse” brings supreme conditioning into every fight, which means he can push the pace across five rounds without an issue.
This mostly stems from his incredible work rate during training camps. Johnson never cuts corners, and this is evident when his rivals start to fade but he still looks completely fresh.
With fatigue slowing his opponents down, the Washington state native maintains his quick reactions and killer instinct.
This can help him secure a finish at any point, especially when his rivals search for a breath or try to run out the clock.