Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has paid his dues and earned his reputation as one of the greatest mixed martial artists in history, but is it time for the legendary American to try something new?
Since joining ONE Championship, the flyweight superstar has espoused the benefits of having a variety of combat sports on offer. Notably, ONE Super Series features the world’s best strikers under both the Muay Thai and kickboxing rule sets.
And after his defeat to Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes for the ONE Flyweight World Title in April, the Washington native stated that his next move could be a switch to the striking arena.
“The beautiful thing about ONE is that if I go home and I say to Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO], ‘Maybe I want to try a kickboxing fight,’ then why not? So let’s try a kickboxing fight with the big gloves,” Johnson said in his post-fight interview.
That potential crossover has stirred up plenty of interest from ONE’s striking stars, with various athletes in the stand-up ranks offering to exchange leather with the MMA legend in the Circle.
With so much intrigue and speculation, here are five potential opponents that Johnson could square off against if he makes the move to ONE Super Series for his next contest.
#1 Ilias Ennahachi
ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion Ilias “Tweety” Ennahachi was the first man to throw his hat into the ring.
The Dutch-Moroccan striker had already called out Johnson after his latest World Title defense against “The Kicking Machine” Superlek Kiatmoo9 at ONE: FISTS OF FURY, and when news followed of the American’s interest in kickboxing, Ennahachi swooped in — even adding a caveat that could suit the mixed martial arts veteran.
“To be fair, if I win (which I will, trust me), I will give you the rematch in your rules (MMA). This way it’s fair for both!” he wrote in a message to Johnson.
Diving straight in against one of the greatest kickboxers on the planet would be a big ask, but when has “Mighty Mouse” ever shied away from a challenge?
#2 Josh Tonna
Australia’s Josh “Timebomb” Tonna was also quick to offer his services for a kickboxing contest against the AMC Pankration athlete.
“Is there a better matchup for [Johnson] if he wants to try [ONE] Super Series?” Tonna asked.
Like Johnson, the former ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Title challenger is all action inside the Circle, and this bout would make for a scintillating battle under kickboxing rules.
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#3 Fahdi Khaled
While Johnson would no doubt love to challenge himself against the division’s upper echelon, a good place to start might be against a rising star who would serve as a litmus test for his ability to compete against the top-ranked strikers.
Fahdi Khaled has shown his world-class ability by going the distance with Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon in Muay Thai and with Superlek in kickboxing, but he’s itching for a chance to add a victory to his slate.
The teak-tough Tunisian would bring the skill and tenacity needed to push Johnson in his OSS debut, and victory would be important for either man.
#4 Rui Botelho
Rui Botelho would be another ideal foil for the most dominant Flyweight Mixed Martial Arts World Champion in history.
Though he is primarily a Muay Thai athlete, Botelho’s best ONE Super Series performance came when he defeated Yuta Watanabe under kickboxing rules.
The Portuguese star is more compact at the weight, so there wouldn’t be much chance of a long-range points battle. Instead, fans could be treated to a toe-to-toe battle as both men engage in close quarters.
#5 Yuya Wakamatsu
A wild-card option for Johnson would be a rematch with Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu – this time in an all-striking affair.
The Japanese slugger gave “Mighty Mouse” a hard time on the feet in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarterfinals, but the American ultimately came through with a guillotine choke finish to earn the win.
Wakamatsu would love to trade more blows with Johnson, and it would bring an extra redemption angle for “Little Piranha” after losing to “Mighty Mouse” under mixed martial arts rules.