Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson achieved a lifelong dream when he won the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship in 2019.
Now, his focus is firmly on taking the ONE Flyweight World Title from Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes.
Johnson will challenge the division’s reigning king for the crown in the main event of “ONE on TNT I,” which marks the promotion’s return to United States prime-time television and will air live on Wednesday, 7 April.
After emerging from a trio of tough battles to claim the tournament’s silver belt, Johnson – who is already a 12-time Flyweight Mixed Martial Arts World Champion – feels he rightfully earned the opportunity to challenge for ONE Championship gold.
“Obviously, with my name and what I’ve done in mixed martial arts, I could have argued for a title shot [right away], but I’ve always been upfront about athletes working for their shot,” he says.
“My experience in the Grand Prix was awesome. It’s something I really, truly wanted after watching PRIDE growing up, and I got one of the belts that I’m most proud of.
“Now, my story has led me to fight Adriano Moraes for the flyweight belt.”
Moraes has been a dominant force in ONE Championship’s flyweight ranks since he captured the inaugural gold against Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio back in 2014.
Overall, the BJJ specialist has won six of his eight World Title bouts, and he owns nine victories on the global stage, including six via submission.
“Mighty Mouse” certainly respects his opponent and is well-aware of his dangerous ground game, but he also believes there is a flaw in Moraes’ offense — whether standing or on the ground.
“I think Adriano is the World Champion for a reason. He’s very good at what he does and how he likes to go about winning his fights,” the 34-year-old Johnson says.
“He is good at getting the back, throwing on those long legs for a body triangle, and looking for the rear-naked choke.
“But if you look at that – it’s a safe spot and his spot to burn time. There were times he got Geje Eustaquio’s back, and he’s sitting there hidden. If you have my back, I’m like, ‘Great, you’re on my back, are you going to do something? Let’s go!’
“That is one thing he does very well. He’s also very long for the division, so he likes to run. He likes to keep his distance. Those are the two things I think he does very well.”
“Mighty Mouse” is renowned for an incredible gas tank and relentless work rate.
With that in mind, the AMC Pankration representative plans to offer “Mikinho” no chance for a respite or any opportunity to sit back – a pace he doesn’t think the Brazilian is ready for.
“When I watch all his fights, he goes in to compete, but he hasn’t really gone in to impose his will on somebody,” Johnson says. “That’s what he should be doing in all his fights.
“I’m going to come in and I’m going to come forward. 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.
“You’ve got to go out there and take risks because without risk, there is no reward. My coach tells me, ‘You need to go get him.’ You are being paid to fight and win, and that’s what I plan on doing.”
Johnson is not just talking a good game. During his six-year stranglehold on the North American flyweight division, he won World Championship gold and then defended it 11 times. That incredible run featured a plethora of finishes, including a number of brilliant submissions in the fifth round of World Title contests.
The American hopes that his experience, hard work, and fighting style will combine to make him a nightmare for “Mikinho” and kick-start a new era of dominance on the other side of the globe.
“I’m very confident in my process of getting myself ready for the fight. But I go out there and I hope for a good result,” Johnson states.
“It would mean a lot [to win the ONE Flyweight World Title]. I dominated North America for six years as a World Champion. Now the goal coming to ONE Championship — which is the greatest and best organization in the eastern side of the world — is to dominate and become a World Champion.
“We’ve dissected Adriano — this isn’t the first time we’ve gotten ready for him — so in order to find out what weakness I plan on exposing on April 7, tune in live on TNT.”