The ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix kicks off at ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, 31 March, and there is one man who will be keeping a closer eye on the action than anyone else.
Reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes will be watching the quarter-final bouts with a keen interest, as the tournament champion will receive an opportunity to challenge him for the gold.
“It’s going to be amazing. It’s eight fighters with a lot of experience and a lot of power,” the 30-year-old Brazilian says.
“I feel honored to be at the top of the division, and I’ll be waiting for the winner of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.”
Every potential opponent will be in action on the same night at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, as the four quarter-final bouts will all be featured on ONE Championship’s inaugural event in Japan.
All eight of the Grand Prix participants have a world-class skill set, and each competitor has the ability to progress to the next round.
Because of that, Moraes knows whoever wins the tournament and earns their way to a World Title shot will be a formidable adversary.
“I’m very excited to see these fights,” he reveals.
“Demetrious Johnson is going to get the tough Japanese guy [Yuya Wakamatsu], Kairat Akhmetov versus Reece McLaren is going to be huge, and then there is [Danny] Kingad and [Andrew] Leone, and the new Brazilian fighter [Ivanildo Delfino] and [Tatsumitsu Wada].
“The flyweight division now is very tough, and I need to be ready because whoever wins the Grand Prix is going to be a tough fight for me.”
Moraes is clearly excited at the prospect of meeting the undisputed top contender in his next ONE Flyweight World Title defense when the tournament has reached its conclusion.
However, “Mikinho” has his own thoughts on the potential frontrunners.
The American Top Team representative has kept tabs on his flyweight peers, and he knows who poses the biggest threat to his crown.
“For me, the favorite is DJ or Reece McLaren,” Moraes states.
“Reece is a really good fighter, and Demetrious Johnson is one of the best fighters in the world. I guess he will win, but there are a lot of good fighters in the game.
“Danny Kingad brings a lot of power, and after he lost to me, he went on a four-bout win streak. He is going to be prepared for this.”
The timeframe for the semi-final and final rounds has not been confirmed yet, but the Brazilian will keep a close eye on the action and continue to improve his skills.
Moraes does not want to sit out of active competition for too long, and he has a couple of ideas that might keep him focused and help occupy his time.
“I guess I need to wait for the end of the Grand Prix to see my next opponent, but I will keep working,” he explains.
“Maybe I will be back in BJJ competitions. Maybe ONE will give me a super-fight in the meantime. I’m here, I feel great, and I’ll keeping working. I’m here to fight.”