The MMA legend has been a key figure in Yang’s transition to the professional ranks, and he’s excited to witness his teammate’s development in a featherweight clash against Keanu Subba at ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic on Friday, 22 April.
“Mighty Mouse” said:
“I think it’s just him getting better as a martial artist. I think he’s already been mentally tough, especially from his background in wushu and the Shaolin Temple. And, you know, I would have to say, just him becoming a martial artist.”
As Johnson referenced, martial arts are more than a career for Yang. The 32-year-old’s journey began at a young age, and he even left home for an intense three-year training spell at a Shaolin Temple in China.
These days, the American rising star is learning from DJ at AMC Pankration in Washington state, and he debuted with a dominant TKO over Roel Rosauro in September.
Yang’s ruthlessness on the canvas allowed him to control the Filipino throughout that fight, and he ultimately secured the victory with a second-round finish.
After working with his teammate in fight camp – and after breaking down his next opponent – “Mighty Mouse” said fans can anticipate another decisive win from Yang on Friday.
The 12-time Flyweight World Champion offered:
“I expect a finish, so they can expect that too. After watching Keanu Subba, I see there are parts where James is gonna be able to go out there and excel and perform better than he can.
“But you know, a fight to fight. So James has got to make sure he’s physically ready and just go out there and fight. That’s what it’s about.”
Demetrious Johnson Says Keanu Subba Is Perfect ‘Next Step’ For James Yang
While Demetrious Johnson is positive that James Yang can leave the Circle with his hand raised, the MMA GOAT believes Keannu Subba is an ideal litmus test for his protege.
He’s done his homework on the Malaysian and expects Yang to be challenged throughout the contest – exactly what he needs at this point in his MMA career.
“Mighty Mouse” said:
“I think [James] being 1-0 as a pro, fighting in ONE Championship, is a great stepping stone that he’s fighting Keanu Subba. We did some research on Keanu. I watched videos on him, and I think Keanu Subba is the best opponent for where he’s at right now.
“I think Keanu is going to bring the fight way better than his last opponent did. Subba does a lot of things right. His stand-up is very technically sound, great fundamentals. And I think that’s the way you got to work your way up, until you feel like you’re ready to take that next step.”
For his part, Subba will be aiming for the eighth win of his pro MMA career after a pair of tough losses to #1-ranked featherweight contender Tang Kai and Japanese athlete Ryogo Takahashi.
A broken tibia and fibula cut the 27-year-old’s night short against Takahashi, and he suffered an injury to the same leg when he returned against the Chinese knockout specialist.
Now that he’s back at 100 percent, Subba will look to spoil the party for Yang and send a message to the division on Friday in Singapore.