Brazil’s Moraes will put his ONE Flyweight World Title on the line against the GOAT live on U.S. prime-time television at “ONE on TNT I” this Wednesday, 7 April.
Fans have pictured this battle ever since the American legend put pen to paper with the world’s largest martial arts organization. Now, it’s locked and loaded, with both the World Champion and the challenger raring to go.
Before Moraes and Johnson fight for the gold, we break down four keys to victory in this colossal clash.
DJ’s Relentless Pace Across 5 Rounds
More so than any specific technique, Johnson will look to impose his unrivaled work rate on the division’s reigning king.
The ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion is renowned for his never-ending gas tank and constant action. He’s gone into the fifth round of World Title contests 10 times and rarely slows down or takes a break. In fact, the Washington native has finished three opponents in the fifth frame — and one in the very last second.
That’s a scary proposition for any opponent, as they won’t be afforded a respite for up to 25 frantic minutes as “Mighty Mouse” tries to break them down physically and mentally.
“I try to do my best to make sure I can push the fight and make it miserable for [my opponents], and then I try to drown them in the later rounds,” Johnson said recently, while adding that he believes Moraes is more inclined to cruise through fights and take his foot off the gas.
Moraes’ Long Range
Moraes has physical assets that can punish Johnson’s willingness to keep pushing forward, and those assets could present the reigning champ with opportunities to create space and damage.
More specifically, the American Top Team representative is 12 centimeters taller than “Mighty Mouse,” which transforms into a significant reach advantage with his arms and legs.
With that in mind, “Mikinho” has worked diligently with striking coach Katel Kubis in Florida, and he will aim to make the most of his anatomical edges by utilizing his strong straight punches and low kicks.
In order to get close and score, Johnson will have to pass through the danger zone — something he is never frightened of doing.
But if the Brasilia native can frustrate his challenger and keep him at the end of his range, there’s a much better chance that “Mighty Mouse” will open up gaps for hurtful strikes or put himself in less advantageous positions as he tries to close the distance.
And if DJ does get wary of shutting down the gap, that hesitance could favor Moraes’ pace in the long run.
- Demetrious Johnson Plans To Push The Pace, ‘Drown’ Adriano Moraes
- 5 Reasons Why Adriano Moraes Can Defeat Demetrious Johnson
- Moraes Not Worried About Underdog Label, Vows To Beat DJ On TNT
DJ Putting The ‘Mixed’ In Mixed Martial Arts
Johnson’s potential trump card against “Mikinho’s” range is his variety, and that will be the biggest factor in mounting offense during this World Title fight.
The American’s fluidity between styles and ranges is where he truly excels. Opponents don’t just need to keep up with his pace – they also must stay mentally focused as DJ feints and moves constantly on the outside in order to disguise his more powerful strikes and takedown entries.
There is rarely a pattern to follow, so the mixed martial arts legend can enter behind his feints, punches, and kicks to clinch the upper body or shoot at the legs.
Once in the clinch or on the ground, Johnson will hit in unorthodox ways that don’t allow his rivals to simply settle and defend, and he can then move from striking or throwing to submitting in a split second.
DJ believes “Mikinho” is more comfortable at a slower pace and within established positions, so he will try to take that comfort away with his rapid and varied transitions between striking, wrestling, and ground fighting.
If he can get Moraes flustered, “Mighty Mouse” will make the most of any hesitation or bad decision to latch onto a finish.
‘Mikinho’ The Constrictor
With that said, the laidback Brazilian has rarely looked uncomfortable on the global stage. Even in his rare defeats – all by split decision – he’s never appeared close to being overwhelmed.
Instead, Moraes has a tendency to bring the fight into his zone on the ground, and that’s where he thrives. Although Johnson is also a great wrestler, Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada showed that even the GOAT has frailties that “Mikinho” can exploit.
If the Brazilian can shrug his way to a back-control position from the clinch, or if he can use his fast transitions to take the back on the ground, the challenger will be in big trouble.
Like Wada, Moraes has long limbs and likes to throw them into a body triangle from the back. The BJJ black belt is almost unshakeable from this position and a potent submission threat.
“Mighty Mouse” keeps his cool and will often throw strikes back, but Moraes has an eye for a gap. He can go from position to submission in the blink of an eye, and he believes he owns the speed advantage necessary to finish Johnson for the first time if he gets the chance.