Demetrious Johnson is thrilled to have joined the world’s largest martial arts organization.
On Monday, 29 October, the American flyweight participated in a conference call with media from across the globe to discuss his signing to ONE Championship.
“I am very honored and grateful to be able to be a ONE athlete. It is a huge move on my part and for my career,” he said.
“I am looking to get over there in Asia and test my skill set against the best of ONE Championship in the flyweight division.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, October 28, 2018
Johnson is the most dominant world champion in mixed martial arts.
He captured the inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship in September 2012, and made 11 consecutive defenses – more than any other titleholder in the sport’s history.
Following his last bout in August, the Washington native sought new challenges and privately expressed his desire to compete overseas with ONE.
“I felt that I am pretty young in my career and I wanted to try something different,” Johnson explained.
“I always wanted to travel the world and compete, and I actually grew up watching Asian mixed martial arts – with PRIDE, mostly. To be able to have the opportunity to travel over to Asia to compete in a totally different weight class is something I couldn’t pass up.”
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouse) October 27, 2018
Another thing that attracted Johnson to ONE Championship was its principles.
Many Western companies encourage their athletes to promote bouts with trash talk and crude behavior, but ONE emphasizes martial arts’ values and places a premium on competitors’ skills.
It is an approach that fits with the “Mighty Mouse” ethos.
“I was never the biggest fan of the way people went about promoting their fights over in North America. I saw some athletes use it as a way of bullying, [and] as a way of gaining followers,” he said.
“I am very excited I don’t have to go through that whole thing, [and can carry] myself as a true martial artist. I have felt I have always done that in my time here in North America, and it’s in everybody’s DNA in Asia.
“It’s always about respect and promoting the fight the correct way as true martial artists who are going to go in there and test our skills against each other.
“I’m not a confrontational person. I do mixed martial arts because it’s something I love, and it helps me express my feelings. I’m an artist when I go to compete.
“Artists don’t run their mouths and attack people, or cause a big scene. They focus and put their energy on what they love to do, which is being a martial artist. What I love to do is being a martial artist, so I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Johnson hopes to make his promotional debut in January or February, but he does not expect to get a shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship right away.
He plans to work his way into contention, claim the belt, and then defend it as many times as he can.
The 32-year-old also added he is interested in branching out and testing his striking skills in ONE Super Series.
“I definitely think I have the skills to do it. I actually have Muay Thai and shoot boxing competition underneath my belt, but first thing’s first – I get my toes wet in mixed martial arts,” he said.
“As long as Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO] is okay with it, and my coach is okay with it, then I don’t see [a problem]. One of the beautiful things about ONE Championship is that you’re not just stuck in one pool.
“If I put my name in a hat to try a Muay Thai fight, I’m sure they wouldn’t be opposed to it – as long as I’m able to display that I have the skill set to do that, which I truly believe I do.”